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Last week the Precision Driven Health team headed to Hamilton for a week of health informatics and…hobbits! 

Last week the Precision Driven Health (PDH) team attended HiNZ Digital Health Week 2019, New Zealand’s largest digital health conference, held at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton. With a full week of presentations, seminars and workshops, it was an action-packed few days for team PDH. 

Digital Health Week 2019 was HiNZ’s largest conference yet with 1400 delegates, 350 speakers and 126 exhibitors. HiNZ has even announced that we’ll be returning to Claudelands next year, as it’s rapidly becoming the only venue with enough capacity for this hugely popular event. We may be slightly biased, but after having attended similar events around the world, we can say that the New Zealand version is the best there is. The event is a great credit to Kim Mundell and the rest of the HiNZ team. 

The conference got off to a poignant start with Terry Lee sharing his story about how technology has helped him to recover and regain some independence following the devastating injuries he sustained in Australia’s 2015 wildfires. His reminder of why we do what we do set the tone for a wonderful week of conversations. 

PDH was represented by a whopping 13 speakers, including our CEO Kevin Ross, who gave a mid-way progress report on the work of the partnership. Kevin also presented key findings from the recently released AI Forum report AI for Health in New Zealand. 

Several PDH researchers were invited to speak in the scientific streams to give an update on their current research projects, which this year featured several innovations in natural language processing. Orion Health intern data scientist Hamish Huggard presented his PDH summer research on bench-marking text features for clinical named-entity recognition, while graduate data scientist Enno Huang shared the status of his project on clinical abbreviation detection and normalisation. Their talks were well received, and prompted some insightful questions on the data sets they used, as well as the scope of real-world application of their work.  

Gayl Humphrey from the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) and Samuel Wong from Vensa Health both highlighted projects that PDH is supporting to empower people with better tools to manage their care and that of their whānau. Gayl has studied the engagement patterns of parents using an app to monitor their child’s growth, while Samuel is leading a major project that could transform the way we receive laboratory test results. 

The week peaked with a spectacular conference dinner hosted at Hobbiton. Attendees were treated to a guided tour of the set made famous by the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, followed by a Middle Earth-themed harvest festival complete with food stalls, folk music and fire dancing. We know how much hobbits like to eat, drink and be merry, so it seemed only right for us to indulge too!  

Thank you to everyone who visited us at Booth 62 – we look forward to continuing our connection and keeping you updated on all things precision health. If you’re interested in collaborating with us, get in touch at, or connect with us on social media.