Digital health: 4 trends at the 2017 e‑Health Conference

The 17th edition of the e-Health Conference and Tradeshow took place in Toronto June 4-7. This year’s theme was the future of digital health and the people who benefit.

It might be hard to predict the future, but by identifying the subjects that attract the most interest from physicians and researchers today, it is possible to get a glimpse of tomorrow’s needs. We’ve taken a look at the conference program to identify the reoccurring themes, and despite the impressive diversity of the sessions, we spotted four trends that are likely indicators of future needs in digital health.

1. Adopting new technology in the health sector

Often, the main challenge for forward-thinking physicians isn’t technology itself, but the will of those around them to implement it. How can they encourage their colleagues to adopt new tools and habits? What are the best practices? Which ones should be avoided? According to our observations, this will be the most frequently addressed subject at the conference.

Sessions on the subject

  • Evaluating Application Implementations – Monday June 5, 10am
  • Implementation: Futuristic Thinking – Monday June 5, 4pm
  • Strategic Intergration: A Global Perspective – Monday June 5, 4pm
  • Adoption and Use Across the Care Continuum – Tuesday June 6, 9:30am
  • Diversity in Implementation – Tuesday June 6, 10:30am
  • Expanding Digital Competencies Through Education –Tuesday June 6, 10:30am
  • Adoption & Engagement –Tuesday June 6, 1pm
  • Learning to Leverage Technology – Wednesday June 7, 10:30am


Team of doctors working on laptop computer in medical office.jpeg

2. Telehealth / remote health

Remote medical appointments have existed for several years, but they are far from being common. How is this model working for physicians who have integrated it into their day-to-day practice? What are the challenges, benefits and limits of telehealth? Health professionals seem eager to find out.

Sessions on the subject

  • Optimizing Clinical Processes Using Telehealth – Monday June 5, 4pm
  • Virtual and Mobile Technologies in the Home – Monday June 5, 4pm
  • TeleHealth Models with Big Data Flavour – Tuesday June 6, 9:30am
  • PIA’s to Telehealth: A Journay –Tuesday June 6, 10:30am
  • Connecting Care: Virtual Realities – Wednesday June 7, 10:30 am

3. Analysis and use of patient data

Physicians have been collecting and analyzing data since time immemorial, including Hippocrates back in 4th century BCE. The advent of digital technology has multiplied the quantity of available data and its possible uses. How far does the technological potential for gathering and analyzing data go? Most importantly, how can physicians integrate these technologies into their practices? It’s a subject that many physicians are clearly passionate about.

Sessions on the subject

  • Analytics Driving Canadian Healthcare – Monday June 5, 10am
  • Accelerating Information Use and Access – Tuesday June 6, 10:30 am
  • Enabling the Data Driven Healthcare Entreprise with Self-Service Visual Analytics – Monday June 5, 11am
  • Connecting Data in Meaningful Ways –Monday June 5, 4pm
  • Data Sharing: Thinking Beyond Acute Care – Tuesday June 6, 10:30am
  • Realizing the Promise of “Big” Data – Wednesday June 6, 10:30am


top view of Medicine doctor hand working with modern computer and digital pro tablet with his team with digital medical diagram on wooden desk as medical concept                               .jpeg

4. Involving patients in their own treatment

We already saw this trend at the Front-line services conference—the will to steer patients toward taking charge of their care by educating them more comprehensively about the state of their own health. But is it wise to share all information with patients? How much should physicians delegate to non-health professionals? These are the types of questions that many physicians are currently asking.

Sessions on the subject

  • Advancing Frameworks for Patient Engagement – Monday June 5, 4pm
  • Patient Engagement Through Digital Health – Tuesday June 6, 10:30am
  • Engaging Patients Through Digital Health – Wednesday June 7, 8:30am
  • Evolving Approaches to Patient Care – Wednesday June 7, 10:30am
  • Empowering Consumers and Providers – Wednesday June 7, 10:30am

What to take away from the 2017 e-Health Conference program

If there is a lesson to be drawn from the four trends that we observed in the 2017 e-Health Conference program, it’s that the human aspect of digital health shouldn’t be ignored. Technology doesn’t exist by itself; it’s used by human beings and implies changes, whether it’s about adopting a new tool, starting telehealth, collecting data in a new way or giving a more important place to the patient.

Tech companies that want to improve the health system have everything to gain from helping their potential users, especially change leaders. Given the complexity and increasing quality of technology in the health sector, the human element becomes an aspect that is at least as important as the performance of the technology.