Sylvia Thun is Director for eHealth and Interoperability at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and Professor for Information and Communications Technology in Healthcare at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. She is both a physician and a qualified engineer with particular expertise in national and international IT standards in the health sector.
You only have to talk to her for a few seconds to become aware of the passion with which she cares about standardising health care information to improve cross-border health service delivery. She has been involved with EU projects working in this area from the beginning, with epSOS ten years ago; needless to say, she is hugely supportive of the HL7 FHIR IPS so delighted to become one of our ambassadors.
In her current role she has played a key part in securing recent German agreement to adopt SNOMED CT, which she hopes will now encourage those other countries that are unsure whether to make the leap to join as well.
She has been involved with encouraging the Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung (KBV), the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians who represent doctors & physiotherapists at the Federal level, to buy in to the IPS. She is also a leading light in the Medizininformatikinitiative, helping to ensure that every doctor, patient and researcher has access to the information they require in the future.
A harder nut to crack though was the largest vendor of primary care systems in Germany who wanted to stick with their own proprietary standards. Patient diplomacy, and the opportunity to expand into Switzerland and Austria if they adopted the IPS and other standards, wore them down though. An equal challenge were the four principal vendors of secondary care systems who also wanted to keep their own proprietary standards. However the umbrella organisation, the BVITG saw the logic and was instrumental in persuading all vendors to comply – indeed at present all the 34 university hospitals in the country are engaged in a €150m contract to standardise their health information systems on HL7 FHIR.
She is of course also engaged in international persuasion efforts, notably on EUCANCan, which is project developing a federated network of aligned and interoperable infrastructures for the homogeneous analysis, management and sharing of genomic oncology data for personalized medicine in the EU and Canada. She also works with the standard terms of the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM) in the IDMP project.