Prof. Henryk Skarżyński at the Health Challenges Congress

On 18-20 February 2016, in Katowice, took place the Health Challenges Congress. Health Challenges Congress is an initiative aimed at facilitating a wide, multisector and multidisciplinary debate with participation of politicians, physicians, academia, industry and media. What does our health status depend on? It was one of the primary questions that the participants of the more than 50 congress sessions have been trying to answer. There were about 250 speakers participating in panel discussions. One of the special guests was Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Prof. Henryk Skarżyński had been invited to the panel discussion ‘Telemedicine – selected legal and financial questions’. Panelists have been trying to find answers to difficult questions, such as: what is telemedicine, what problems and challenges will have to be overcome in order to make these medical tools more popular, how to finance it. Discussion had been opened with an information that after the recently implemented regulatory changes telemedical services in Poland are now in accordance with the regulations.

Prof. Henryk Skarżyński, presenting as the first panelist, introduced topics related to the dimensions of telemedicine, definition of a telemedical service and organization and functioning of the National Network of Teleaudiology of the World Hearing Center.

Telemedicine may have different dimensions. First is local – provision of services through the network within one hospital unit or complex. Second if the regional dimension, such as one at the Silesian Center for Heart Diseases in Zabrze – said Prof. Skarżyński during the panel. – There is also a national dimension, a network of cooperating centers. Since 2007 I represent such center, which is the first in the world system of this kind in the field of audiology. And finally we can talk about an international dimension, such as for example our program of hearing screening in children implemented on four continents.

During the panel there were discussed also the issues related to the scale of savings resulting from the implementation of telemedicine and to the market of telemedical solutions in Poland and selected countries.

Closing the discussion Prof. Skarżyński said: – Telemedicine does not only mean provision of a specific service to an individual patient. This is also a change to evaluate the scale of certain occurrences. Without the modern ITC solutions it is difficult to plan a rational national health policy. As an example I may quote our activities and their results. If, after screening the hearing on more than 1 million children allover Poland we obtain information that one child in 5 has some problem with hearing and communication, this is not a statistically irrelevant information generated in a single clinic, but reflection of a phenomenon important from the point of view of the national health policy. Telemedicine allows performing inexpensive, universal screening tests and providing information needed for implementing a pro-health policy in our country – said Prof. Henryk Skarżyński.

Other panelists included: Krzysztof Kurek, LUXMED Group Board Member for Medicine, Piotr Lubijewski, Director of the Orange E-Health Program, Wojciech Matusewicz,  President of the Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Tariff System, Prof. Ryszard Piotrowicz, Head of Department and Clinic of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Noninvasive Electrocardiology of the Institute of Cardiology in Warsaw and Wojciech Zawadzki, Director of the Department of Healthcare Services of the NFZ.

Among the Congress participants there were also: representatives of the Ministry of health, National Health Fund NFZ, Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Tariff System, national consultants and directors of clinics, representatives of the WHO, medical units and universities, medical and pharmaceutical companies and organizations of patients. The Health Challenges Congress had been organized by the PTWP Group SA, editor of the internet portal and magazine ‘Rynek Zdrowia’ (‘Health Market’).