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Current Trends in Health Information Technology

Date: Monday 16 September 2019
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Cost per delegate: R800



Current Trends in Health Information Technology


Prof Greg Foster (Rhodes University, Grahamstown)
Prof Janet Wesson (Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth)

Background & Aims:

The Health domain internationally has a strong continuous improvement and reform ethos, due to a range of pressures: economic and workforce constraints, increasinglongevity and consumer demands, advancement in medical knowledge and treatments. Examples of responses to these pressures are the development of newmodels of care and carer interactions, and the shifting of some health management responsibilities to the subject-of-care. These and other drivers of change havecatalysed interest in how Information Technology (IT) can contribute to health systems improvement, predominantly through better ways of managing information in manydifferent healthcare settings. This workshop thus aims to provide a succinct appreciation of contemporary major trends in Health IT, associated with areas of strong need for health systems.

Four areas of focus have been chosen as candidates for discussion in this workshop. There are many other possibilities that could be included but it was considered that a balance needs to be made between the depth at which an area can be covered, and the immediate clinical value that can be gained from that area. Some areas which could be regarded as trends are essentially stable technically (e.g. telemedicine), while others have yet to realise their promise (e.g. artificial intelligence). The four areas chosen are regarded as well-established in technical importance and clinical relevance, but still have much room for further work, hence can be regarded as “trends”. These areas are:

Electronic/Personal Health Records, underpinning functions in the management and analysis of health data of individuals, with attendant issues of security/privacy, coding/quality, interoperability and interpretation.

Bioinformatics, dealing with the mapping of genomic and associated structures in human biology, to enable more personalised precision healthcare decisions leading to better diagnosis and treatments.

Ageing, where a shift from highly institutionalised aged care towards citizen empowerment to “age well” by living independently and self-managing care needs delivered by care provider agencies until end-of-life is imminent.

Consumer Applications, introducing new tools for healthy living and self-care delivered through sensor networks or medical device hardware, and mobile or online software.

Delegates attending the workshop, whether involved in Health IT projects or more generally interested in the scope of contemporary directions in Applied IT, will gain an appreciation of underlying trend areas as well as the wide range of issues and challenges that must be taken into consideration for successful advancement of knowledge and practice in these areas.


The workshop will consist of a sequence of 6 presentation sessions. At the start and end will be 2 short sessions of approx. 15 mins, for the organisers jointly to provide introduction/overview and conclusion/synthesis commentaries. The main body of the workshop will be 4 longer sessions of approx. 30 mins duration, each focussed on a specific prominent trend area within the workshop scope. These sessions will present an overview of the trend area followed by some contemporary examples of its health applications, and then describe some of the issues and challenges associated with tthat area. Case studies with which the presenters are familiar through their direct experience may be included. Presentation time will not exceed 25min in each of these sessions, to allow some time for questions/discussion.

Introduction/Overview (15mins) – Organisers
Topic 1: Electronic/Personal Health Records (30mins) – Foster
Topic 2: Bioinformatics (30mins) – Machanick
Optional Break (15-30mins)
Topic 3: Ageing (30mins) – Maeder
Topic 4: Consumer Applications (30mins) – Wesson
Conclusion/Synthesis (15mins) – Organisers

Expected Outcomes:

The resulting learning outcomes from the workshop will be as follows:

  • Knowledge of several major areas in Health IT which are considered as currently important and complex to address
  • Knowledge of the types of theoretical and practical considerations for design, implementation and adoption of solutions in these areas
  • Understanding the need and value of applying this knowledge, through the examination of case studies and related success/failure criteria
  • Insight into future research and development directions in this domain, through appreciation of the need for appropriate methodologies.

    It is hoped that enough interest will be generated by the Workshop that some successful new collaborative projects will emerge in this area, as delegates find themselves more able to identify the range of skills and expertise needed in the highly demanding Health domain. Possibly the content of the Workshop presentations could also be formulated into a paper submission for SACJ, as a further outcome resulting from the conference.


1. Prof Greg Foster, Department of Information Systems, Rhodes University
2. Prof Janet Wesson, Department of Computing Sciences, Nelson Mandela University
3. Prof Philip Machanick, Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University
4. Prof Anthony Maeder, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia


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