That was the challenge issued by plenary speaker Professor Wendy Chapman, the Associate Dean (Digital Health) and Director of the Centre for Digital Transformation of Health at the University of Melbourne, speaking to a packed house at the eHealth@Sydney 2020 Conference at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 11 February.

“All the pieces already exist – in real platforms, programs or research – but they aren’t integrated,” she said. “Different groups need to come together to deliver this bigger vision of connected healthcare.”

eHealth@Sydney 2020 is the Digital Health and Informatics Network (DHIN)’s flagship event and saw over 350 clinicians, digital health researchers and health system administrators attend - double that from the previous year’s event.

The attendees heard from a wide range of speakers throughout the day, from international and national leaders in eHealth, to Early- and Mid-Career researchers and PhD students, all exploring the conference’s theme, “Using technology to bridge gaps in healthcare”.

The need for collaboration was a key point of conversation throughout the day, with many speakers acknowledging that it’s passionate individuals in combination with systems that have the highest potential to make a difference to healthcare.

When delivering the keynote speech on his vision for a National Learning Health System – a self-investigating and self-improving healthcare system, Professor Charles Friedman said, “The infrastructure needed for the system is sociotechnical – it’s not just computers. There are passionate individuals who want to solve problems in every health system.”

DHIN was formed in 2017 as a network that spans the University of Sydney and several Local Health Districts and has since become closely aligned with Sydney Health Partners Digital and eHealth stream, which explores the potential of digital technology to create better health outcomes.

Professor Garry Jennings AO, Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners, said, “The strength of Sydney Health Partners and our cross-cutting themes is their ability to bring disparate groups together to inspire change within the health system. eHealth@Sydney 2020’s success demonstrates the power of bringing people together who share a common goal to generate new ideas.”

Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, opened the day’s proceedings and spoke to the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding digital health within the Faculty, and the strength of the University’s work in this space.

“Every year we see progress in the eHealth space that has the potential to transform healthcare by using data and informatics to address the key health challenges we face,” said Professor Ward. “These include the strain on limited resources in the healthcare system, persistent health inequalities by geography and income, overdiagnosis and overtreatment – we can help people make better decisions about their health.”

Professor Ward also announced the appointment of Associate Professor Adam Dunn as the head of a brand-new discipline within the Faculty, the Discipline of Biomedical Informatics and Digital Health. Associate Professor Dunn is currently an Associate Professor in the Centre for Health Informatics at Macquarie University, where he leads the Digital Epidemiology team. 

About DHIN

The Digital Health Informatics Network is an open network created to improve future efficiency, quality, and efforts in digital health and informatics, and acts as a central connection point for those interested in digital health and informatics across the University of Sydney, its partners and affiliated research institutes.