Conference: Smart IT Solutions for Integrating Healthcare, Mental Health, and LTC

Location: Pingtung, Taiwan

Pingtung Christian Hospital in Taiwan hosts one of the most intimate and comprehensive Integrated Healthcare Conferences in all of Southeast Asia, and the best part is that it is international. Taiwan’s hospitable conference hosts organize a tour of premier health facilities within Pingtung and Kaohsiung as a part of the 7 day conference. They also hosts elaborate lunches and dinners of Taiwan’s local cuisine every day for conference attendees to enjoy. Panels are always lead by expert doctors in diverse fields such as Psychiatry, Obstetrics, and Oncology. Conference participants are sure to create a lasting relationship over the course of the week’s activities. Even though the attendance is small at around 40 people, any participants have been returning each year for over 5 years.

This year the theme of the conference was IT solutions for Integrated care, and my team of 5 was invited to join and lecture on our work in Southeast Asia. On November 21st, I shared the stage for about 2 hours with two other researchers, our Principal Investigator and our Program Manager. We had the opportunity to outline the concept and need for behavioral health integration within Southeast Asia, and we individually spoke about the project progress for each of our host countries including Thailand, China, and Vietnam. At the close of our presentation, we had great conversations about the future of healthcare and IT solutions with doctors from India, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, and the UK.

The bottom line is that Healthcare needs a face lift in preventing Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), and that is true in most every country. Doctors from many specialties are feeling the pull toward integrating services and treating patients with holistic, team-based and behavior change approaches. While health systems and administrators in developing countries can see the need for this and are willing to piolet the project, there are many barriers to address in our plan for success and sustainability. The major struggles we see in each developing country continues to be developing the work force to support the new model. With renewed vigor from the energy at the Taiwan conference, we will continue on with this mission of Integrated Behavioral Health to solve NCD prevention, and we will use our current lessons learned to personalize the model for each countries’ needs. Next year, we move forward, one step closer to piolet stage, and we look forward to another great Taiwan conference in 2018.