Q&A with Bernard Vast
Bernard Vast, M.D., Healthcare ICT Specialist, 2Cure
Club of Amsterdam: The subtitle of the next event is “The patient empowered”. How will technology empower the citizen/patient?
Bernard Vast: It already does. Internet is currently the major provider of disease- and health-related information to patients. Many doctors still have to get used to patients entering the consulting room with a fresh printout. This doesn’t mean that information alone will bridge the knowledge gap between a patient and an experienced professional; you don’t bring your TV to a repair centre because you know it all yourself. This inherent gap is something the medical profession and patients will have to work out; Dr. Oderwald – one of the speakers – will elaborate also on this.
Will Internet be the only or most important enabler in the future?
Bernard Vast: The impact of Internet on information society can hardly be overestimated, but in a wider view patients get more knowledgeable through all media. They start to realise that healthcare should be a service industry, serviceable to them; after all, they pay the healthcare institution. They start to know that a healthcare insurance company has a contract with them that obliges the insurance to deliver, not put them on a waiting list. It’s public knowledge by now that in many other European countries waiting lists do not exist. Prof.Dr. Guus van Montfort will also address this topic.
How about the more technological side of medicine, are there emerging technologies that could change the landscape of healthcare?
Bernard Vast: Progress in genetics and probably also nanotechnology will gradually yield results. But to my opinion a currently underestimated emerging technology is that of bio-energetics, a.k.a. quantum-biology. This is the field where quantum-mechanics meets biology and medicine and it’s exciting. All matter (dead and living) is – on the smallest level – subordinate to quantum-mechanical laws. Current microprocessor technology has made possible affordable devices that measure the body’s sub-atomic activities and present conclusions. Devices like the Vegatest (Germany) or the QXCI (USA) are progressively used by for instance homoeopathic doctors and even laymen. This could very well revolutionise diagnosis and therapy. We might see the day where your doctor scans your body and reads the diagnosis, like dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy in Star Trek.
about the future of Healthcare
Cross-border healthcare after EU expands may prove problematic, warns WHO official
02 April 2004. The migration of patients as a result of the European Union’s forthcoming expansion could create problems for some countries that are unprepared, a World Health Organisation official told AFP on Friday.
“We will undoubtedly see more patients seeking treatment in neighbouring regions,” Nata Menabde, director of the division of country support of the WHO’s regional office for Europe.
“But some countries are not ready for that and are ill prepared for the implications of cross-border healthcare,” she said during a two-day conference of European health ministers in Prague.
Freedom of movement to seek treatment abroad would necessitate the development of electronic patient records, for example, while the issue of the transfer of financial resources would have to be addressed, she said.
“Empowering the Citizen through eHealth Tools and Services”
The eEurope Awards for eHealth – 2004 are to be presented at the High-Level European eHealth Conference and Exhibition, in Cork, Ireland 5-6 May 2004.
News about the Future
Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
Representing a significant step forward in catalyzing the growth and future viability of the global fixed broadband wireless market, leading equipment and component manufacturers have formed the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) Forum. As a non-profit organization, the objective of WiMAX is to promote wide-scale deployments of point-to-multipoint networks operating between 2.5 and 66 GHz by leveraging new global consensus standards and certifying the interoperability of various products and technologies from multiple manufacturers.
WiMAX is promising long distance connection speeds of 70 megabits per second data rate over a 30 mile radius.
Intel President and COO Paul Otellini: “The wireless industry is evolving from a web of independent networks into a single, integrated wireless network with multiple standards, and no single standard is sufficient anymore. There won’t be a battle of competing technologies. It will be a requirement that Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and 3G coexist; and that coexistence is going to enable a host of exciting new applications and business models.” Otellini predicts a WiMAX “inflection point” in the 2006-2008 timeframe similar to what happened with Wi-Fi over the past few years, and says WiMAX capability would be available in notebook computers by 2006, followed by handsets in 2007.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Peer-to-peer technology for content distribution
By Balázs Bakos, Jukka K. Nurminen; Nokia Research Center
Peer-to-peer computing is a technology that uses the resources of many connected devices to either distribute large computing tasks or distribute content widely without the need for central servers. Up to now the successful peer-to-peer applications have been running on the fixed Internet, mainly on PCs. But as mobile phones and other small devices are gaining computing power, we started to question how the peer-to-peer activities could be scaled down to such devices. We wanted to see what is possible with the current technology and what are the most important limitations that have to be overcome.
In order to understand what peer-to-peer computing would mean to mobile phone users we established the PerPhone project along with the Budapest Universtiy of Technology and Economics.
Ubiquitous computing, location-awareness, and sensors coupled with phones will potentially make a large number of sensory data available. This data could be potentially used to provide some new services to users.
The objective of the project is to create ideas and demonstrators of novel applications arising from the clustered use of a large number of mobile phones. In parallel, the project will create a better understanding of the technical requirements for phones and networks to support clustered, pervasive applications. Concrete results will include software prototypes, measurement results, reports, and publications.
During the project period the university department can gain significant knowledge about open software platforms for mobile phones. The competence shall be utilized in curriculum development, so that a new course can be started or an existing software engineering course can be extended at the faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics at Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
Research Information Centre
Michel Claessens, acting head of the Communications unit at the Research DG, is confident the new service will help researchers and the general public better understand the European Union’s activities in this field. “For many people, the goings on in the European Union and the Commission are a bit of a mystery,” he admits. “What we hope to do with upgraded communication tools like the Research Information Centre is give people more insight into the research projects and priorities being supported by the Research DG.”
The research information centre gives on-line visitors enhanced access to hundreds of articles and stories from several of the Research DG’s editorial sources, including RTD info, Research Headlines, ‘Success Stories’ and more. Articles have been carefully indexed under 14 themes and up to 70 sub-themes to help visitors find information on a specific research topic.
The Future of the European Union
The Future of the European Union – Debate
Futurum is the interinstitutional site relating to the future of the European Union in general and the process of drafting the European Constitution in particular. This portal site, which is managed by the European Commission, is a source of reference and information on the debate.
The objectives of Futurum are to renew and publish as many documents and links as possible about the process of drafting the Constitution, provide the information tools needed to understand it and give civil society the means to make its voice heard in a real European public forum.
Questionnaire about ‘the future of Energy – the Hydrogen Economy?
At our recent Club of Amsterdam evening about ‘the future of Energy – the Hydrogen Economy?‘ we asked the audience some questions:
1. Do you believe Hydrogen Technology will solve our energy problems?
|55 % yes|
39 % no
|2. Is Hydrogen a safe energy carrier?|
|86 % yes|
11 % no
|3. Would you be willing to have less income in exchange for renewable energy?|
|83 % yes|
17 % no
|4. Should Europe be leading in using renewable energies?|
|97 % yes|
3 % no
|5. Do you prefer that The Netherlands should first be economically competitive before supporting renewable energies?|
|25 % yes|
75 % no
|6. Are you already active reducing your energy consumption?|
|61 % yes|
39 % no
|7. Would you buy a ‘Hydrogen’ car?|
|78 % yes|
17 % no
Geographic Information Systems and Health Applications
by Omar A. Khan, Ric Skinner
The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the health sector is an idea whose time has come. The current applications of GIS in health are diverse and extensive. The present GIS environment is heavily driven by technology and such an approach is indeed logical for the most part. However, the needs of less-developed countries in utilizing the concepts and technologies of mapping should not be neglected in the continuing evolution of GIS.
Supporter of the Club of Amsterdam event about ‘the future of Education & Learning’ on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 is:
Club of Amsterdam Experts Group: Patrick Crehan
Patrick Crehan Crehan, Kusano & Associates
We have recently seen strikes by scientists in France over cuts in the funding of research positions. The most surprising thing about this is that it has not happened sooner and that it has not happened in other countries of Europe.
Scientists spend just as long in education as people from domains such as law, engineering and medicine, yet science is different in that it is not a profession but a highly fragmented group of relatively closed communities devoted to highly specialised disciplines. The members of these communities are the product of a system of apprenticeship that passes though several phases – graduate studies ending in a PhD, a series of post-doc positions and eventually a junior position as a researcher or university lecturer that marks the start of a track to tenure. The post-doc part of the scientific career is based on an annual round of positions allocated by an arbitrary but competitive system. It is impossible for an individual to plan in this period. A new post-doc position usually means a change of address – often to a different country. Remuneration takes little or no account of experience. Limits are imposed on the length of time a position can be held by one person as well as on the age of candidates. The system is one of apprenticeship. Researchers get no formal training in how to carry out research. They carry out tasks that are useful to the laboratory in which they are placed. They observe and try to learn from what other colleagues do and get by on their own. Many scientists pursue post-docs for years on end. They rely on chance to land them in a good environment or provide them with a good supervisor. They are treated as ‘visitors’ not members of staff. They forgo pension contributions, bonus pay, raises and opportunities for personal growth through the assumption of responsibility. Eventually when they get their tenure track position they are engaged to ‘teach’ on the basis of their ability to carry out ‘research’ and they get no teacher training or other professional development. If promoted to ‘head of department’ this is based once more on an ability to carry out research although the primary function of the department is to teach. A university head of department will get no management training and will never have a chance to formally develop skills in strategic planning or in the development of human resources. Academic staff are often required to build links with industry. Having no experience in business they are asked to support the creation of spin-off companies and professors may be assigned to boards of new companies. Scientists in academia are required to do all of these tasks at once without any preparation and from an organisation whose primary function is to teach. Scientists are required to be supermen! No wonder few young people want a career in science?
The member states of the European Union attach great importance to the role of science in developing new business and improving the competitiveness of old. The US has 8.08 scientists per thousand workers and Japan has 9.14. The European Union has an average of 5.7 scientists per 1,000 workers and this will drop to 3.5 after the accession of 10 new members states. Given the current conditions in Europe is this any surprise? Science needs to organise itself as a profession. It needs to ensure that its members are treated with respect and that their investment in undergraduate studies, graduate studies and peripatetic post-doc positions pays off. It needs to ensure that its members have opportunities for personal and intellectual development at all stages of their career. When will scientists be able to plan and structure a career in science instead of drifting like fruit-pickers from one seasonal harvest the next? I wonder if the strikes in France are the start of a process of change?
Club of Amsterdam Upcoming Events
|April 28, 2004||the future of Healthcare & Technology|
|May 19, 2004||the future of Architecture|
|June 23, 2004||the future of Culture & Religion|