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Medinfo 2001

Sept. 2-5 2001

A personal review by Rod Ward

The Medinfo 2001 conference is being held at the ExCel Centre in London Sept. 2-5 2001. This site contains my personal review and report, it is intended to help those unable to attend, but is not an official "proceedings". The official conference web site can be accessed at: http://www.medinfo2001.org/

Venue, Travel & Social Activities

ExCel centre

The ExCel Centre is a massive new building on the old dockside. Car parking is expensive but the centre has good communication links via the Docklands Light Railway. The actual venue itself seems a bit like an aircraft hanger - especially the area for posters, but provides a wide range of catering outlets - with biggest waits for Sushi & Seafood outlets !

There are views of the Millennium Dome and river, but tower blocks dominate the view.

Outside the centre are fountains and a pleasant area next to the old harbourside including an old square rigger (http://www.tallship-artemis.com). I found out after the conference Artemis is not permanent - it was chartered and sailed over by the Erasmus Uni team (they do commercial consulting and cannot use those funds for individuals - so use it for team building etc -- and it was cheaper than hotels for 36 persons!!) It sailed back on Wed evening (wind force and sea swell (as yet) unknown).

Within the ExCel centre, a large hall is divided into the main auditorium holding 500+ people and with good audio visual facilities, and a series of rooms in the conference centre in the roof of the building. Most of the sessions, shown on day 1, occurs here. The presentations have been supported by good powerpoint & computer projection facilities, however the network between all the rooms and the server appears not to be working yet (Monday pm).

The other part of the hall is the poster area - several of the display boards are empty, and others are hidden away way it is unlikely many will see them, but many give information about a wide range of projects and developments around the world. This provides a useful area for discussion with experts, from around the world, about their work and wider health informatics issues.

Several speakers were (rightly) surprised that no Internet connection was available in the rooms used for sessions. It seems that the connection between the PCs used for the presentations and the central server was not working, this caused problems for speakers, chairs and technical staff. The technical crew were generally very supportive and easily accessible. I did notice that one of the delegates had managed to connect his notebook PC to the building's wireless LAN and was managing to access the net from the back of a presentation.

The other main area is devoted to exhibitors stands (where coffee is also available - some of the time), and the Internet Cafe (which has permanent queues of people waiting to check their email!). The exhibition includes several key national health informatics bodies and companies - however it is not on the scale of the HC exhibition which is held in Harrogate each March..

"ECTS" the European show for interactive games was taking place at the same time at ExCel. The ECTS exhibition which was much larger and busier than Medinfo - showing where the money and interest are ! - but it did mean there were some "colorful characters" wandering about !

The Blackwall tunnel is key to getting to the venue by car from the IBIS hotel in Greenwich and is not a good place to drive at 09.00., and the access route into the ExCeL centre is not well signed. Tuesday saw a trip on the docklands light railway, which took longer than I expected but did deliver us to the door of the conference centre.

Monday night saw a NHSIA/NeLH/BIOME team meeting outside the Coach and Horses in Greenwich
NHSIA/NeLH/BIOME
Tuesday evening ended for me with a pint in the "Firkin" pub and a curry and transatlantic discussion with Richard Appleyard (Oregon Health Sciences University) and Bryant Karras (University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine).

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Disclaimer : These reports & pictures are being done "on the fly" during sessions, coffee breaks & over beers at the conference therefore errors are inevitable! I take full responsibility for these and if you spot any, or would like further information please contact me at: Rod.Ward@Sheffield.ac.uk

Page Created: 1.9.01

Last Updated: 7.9.01