The International Nordic Conference on Digital Health and Wireless Solutions in Oulu reveals the future of healthcare

The International Nordic Conference on Digital Health and Wireless Solutions convened in the vibrant city of Oulu, Finland, bringing together pioneers, experts, and enthusiasts from around the globe. The conference was a perfect opportunity for collaboration, creativity, and exploration in the field of digital health and wireless solutions.

As Oulu is a recognised hub for research and development in digital health and wireless communications globally, there could not be a better place to hold a conference, which primarily focuses on this sector. The event, organized by Digital Health (DigiHealth) and 6G Enabled Sustainable Solutions (6GESS) research programs of the University of Oulu, gathered more than 250 participants from 19 countries in the Lasaretti Hotel on 7 and 8 May 2024. The conference served as an ideal platform for professionals, researchers, health companies, and enthusiasts alike to share information on the latest advancements, challenges, and emerging opportunities. From groundbreaking technologies to visionary insights, the event offered a panoramic view of the future of healthcare.

On the first day, the program began with the opening note delivered by the Conference President, Prof Jarmo Reponen, followed by digital greetings from the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Kaisa Juuso. In addition to scientific papers, the conference brought together 24 prominent keynote and invited speakers, including representatives of WHO, EU, and leading research institutes in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, central European and Nordic countries. Michiel Sweerts’ keynote talk was especially significant to the business-oriented audience. Michiel Sweerts is Head of the Research Sector for eHealth, Well-Being, and Ageing at Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content and Technology in the European Commission. His keynote shed light on current EU policies and research initiatives on digital health and provided a comprehensive understanding of the EU’s vision for digital health. Other presentations focused on the current trends in digital health, data privacy, security, and equity in healthcare delivery, digital transformation in healthcare, remote care, digitalization in health education, clinical decision support, medical AI, and many others. The topics were covered through lectures, submitted papers, a poster exhibition, site visits, and company stands. The event forged collaborative partnerships and networks across academia, industry, and healthcare sectors. The participants also had an opportunity to listen to companies’ presentations, find out more about top health innovations, and talk to their developers present at the booths located in the exhibition area.

The companies showcasing their solutions onsite included Medanets, Esko Systems, Nucu, Boldyn Networks, NGK Europe GmbH, PhotonTech Innovations Co., Ltd., PLM Group Suomi, and Iiwari Tracking Solutions.

The second day of the conference was devoted to site visits. One of them enabled a close look at the new premises of the OYS – Oulu University Hospital to learn more about the OYS2030 project. The participants witnessed cutting-edge technologies and advanced medical practices and learnt about the hospital’s commitment to excellence in specialized medical care. Then it was time to discover testing and development environments, the OYS TestLab and the Mittlab. OYS TestLab’s premises can replicate various hospital units, such as an operating theatre, clinics, wards, and control rooms. The Mittlab is a medical imaging teaching and test laboratory. Both environments are located on the premises of Oulu University Hospital. The program also included a visit to the Accessible Home environment for testing and training at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Nokia’s laboratory OTAVA established for wireless testing, and University Health Tech Research Laboratory tours.

’The best result of the conference was that we managed to gather in Oulu a large group of multidisciplinary experts from various fields to discuss health-related themes and to network. The scientific presentations were excellent, and the on-site visit locations were interesting. We received a lot of positive feedback about the event,’ said the Conference President, Prof Jarmo Reponen.

’It was incredible to have so many great speakers and exhibitors from all over the world join us for the conference. We aimed to provide high-quality scientific content. However, securing a sufficient number of reviewers for the vast number of submissions was daunting, as we required three conflict-of-interest-free reviewers for each paper. The results were outstanding, and the scientific content included a two-volume book in the respected Communications in Computer and Information Science series by Springer Publishers. I think this is quite an achievement for the Oulu region,’ concluded Mariella Särestöniemi, Adjunct Professor at the University of Oulu and chairperson of the Scientific Committee.

As the curtains drew on the International Nordic Conference on Digital Health and Wireless Solutions, gained experience, established contacts and discussions will continue to shape the landscape of healthcare for years to come. The conference highlighted the importance of technology, collaboration, and responsible innovation in advancing healthcare. Let us continue this journey of exploration and charting a path towards a healthier, more connected future.

Text and images: Joanna Seppänen, Marketing & Communications, BusinessOulu