International Biomedical Informatics Conference: Perspective on MEDINFO 2019 in Lyon, France

Kate Fultz Hollis, MS, MBI

Research Associate

MEDINFO 2019: The 17th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics Health and Wellbeing e-Networks for All was held this past summer in Lyon, France from August 25-30, 2019.  I wrote in this blog in May 2019 about my trip to Paris for the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) Yearbook. For MEDINFO Lyon, I was part of a panel of the IMIA Yearbook 2019 on the best papers in the 2019 Yearbook and the editors presented almost 50 papers (average of 3 per 13 sections) to a large audience in the Cité Internationale Auditorium. Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) Chair William Hersh also led a standing room only panel, What are the Optimal Data Science and Machine Learning Competencies for Informatics Professionals?, and the panel included DMICE alumnus Sonia Benitez, MD, MS.  Some interesting statistics about this conference too as there were a record number of submissions (1084), with an acceptance rate of 66% overall and 46% for oral presentations.  A computer scientist I met at MEDINFO said that her conferences have a 3% acceptance rate but then with 10,000 submissions maybe MEDINFO acceptance rate is pretty good.

DMICE graduates Sonia Benitez and Charly Otero with chair Bill Hersh
DMICE alumni Sonia Benitez, MD, MS and Charly Otero< MD, MS with Chair William Hersh, MD

MEDINFO 2019 is my first MEDINFO conference after many years editing the proceedings as a student, and I was very impressed.  When I go to the domestic American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Annual Symposium, the first two days are busy and everyone is there and then everyone leaves after Tuesday.  MEDINFO started on Sunday and didn’t end until Friday, and the busiest day to me seemed to be Thursday.  I was also extremely interested in the science at this conference and was told that keynotes (keynotes every day) and scientific content was very high quality compared to previous MEDINFO meetings.  It was also nice that when they figured out we like coffee, there were many coffee breaks and there was lunch everyday (although somewhat of crush to get food as they didn’t have enough food for the 1200 participants).  I liked the idea of wine with one of the lunches.

I tried to attend as many sessions as I could in areas I do not know well.  Social determinants of health, EHR record safety around the globe, data interoperability, and of course some of the more current topics like FHIR and blockchain. I found all of the sessions well managed and I was particularly impressed by the English spoken by most of the participants.  IMIA also sponsored seven informaticians from Asia and Africa. I had a lovely conversation with Golo Seydou Barro from Burkina Faso, who won one of the best posters.

I would encourage everyone to apply to an international informatics conference.  There is European Federation of Medical Informatics (EFMI) Medical Informatics Europe 2020 in Geneva from April 29-May 1 2020, with submissions due October 15, 2019. The next MEDINFO21 will be in Sydney, Australia from August 21-25, 2021.

IMIA Yearbook Panel with Senior Editor Brigitte Seroussi
IMIA Yearbook Panel with Senior Editor Brigitte Seroussi