ETMI – Evolution and Trends in Medical Informatics


  • George Mihalas


  • Izet Masic

Vision and Action Plan

  1. Prolegomenon: the Proposal to establish an EFMI HISTORY Working Group – read at 88th EFMI CM in Nice, May 2022

We all know that the activity of a professional society, including EFMI, is represented in a good extent by the activity of its Working Groups, which are established around main topic of interest.

Besides the specific topics of a domain, the very process of the development of the domain, including its evolution within the context of technological, cultural, social and political environment was always stirring a large interest, as the analysis of the past is always important for estimating the trends of the field, or as we use to say „for reshaping the future”.

A Working Group on History is not limited to simply collect data about events or people, it reveals the factors influencing its evolution and the connections with various adiacent domains. Sooner or later, such working groups do come into existence, either officially declared or just as spontanous groups gathering to organize various events on such topics.

Actually, we had such a „spontaneous” group who organized several actions within our MIEs or STCs. Let me just mention the Panel in Prague at STC 2013, organized by George Mihalas and finalized with a special issue of Acta Informatica Medica edited by Izet Masic. We had Workshops on history also in Istanbul, MIE 2014, in Paris at STC 2016 and Munich at MIE 2016, Manchester 2017 etc etc without mentioning also European contributions to workhops on history at MEDINFO 2013 Copenhagen, MEDINFO 2015 Sao Paulo and Beijing 2017, finalized with the publication of the first volume of the IMIA History WG.

The establishment of the EFMI WG Hisory would actually justset this WG in its official and natural place. Another argument would also be that EFMI, as a regional member of IMIA, has several mirror WGs with IMIA’s WGs.


  1. Proposal to change the name – the Vision of the EFMI WG ETMI – Evolution and Trends in Medical Informatics

This proposal comes from my experience as a vice-chair of IMIA WG History (which started as an IMIA Task Force in 2009 and became WG in 2014, led by Casimir Kulikowski). We worked hard, have been awarded two times as the most active WG of IMIA, organized several workshops and events at Medinfo’s. But our greatest achievement was the preparation of the book, which is, in my opinion, quite different from many other books dedicated to the history of a domain – we asked, from the very beginning, all the authors to describe in free text “how did they get into medical informatics?” And most of them did it. I hope you have seen that some have indeed been quite talented and wrote attractive stories. Thus, we avoided the lexicon style, which is full of information, but “dry”, without the grasp of the historical socio-economical and political context. As I would cite myself: “Reality is full of colors, but when it becomes history it turns into black-and-white”. Thus, we tried to keep some color in the history!

However, probably most of you don’t know, we had the unpleasant surprise that, when the volume was finalized, observing all IOS Press standards, the publication was not accepted – some penible explanations were sent – it does not comprise pure research, or – history is not included as a topic for the series – things like that. So, we had to give up publication in IOS Press and try a “plan B” – finally, with Elaine Huesing’s support (Executive Director of IMIA), it became available as an e-book, downloadable for free from IMIA’s website (

Professor Casimir Kulikowski relate that even in AMIA, the history is considered as an important topic, but, when about publications, it is rated lower!!! A possible explanation would come from the common perception, that those interested in “history” are just looking back, while the “real scientists” are looking to the future! Unfortunately, this misunderstanding is quite common.

I would not quote here some of the large series of citations about „you should know the past for shaping the future” – we all know it. That is why we come here with the proposal of a more appropriate name for our WG: “Evolution and Trends in Medical Informatics”- ETMI.

We thin that this new name would suggest that we do not simply dig the past but also analyse the trends to foresee the most prolific and/or profitable directions of research in medical informatics, to avoid dead directions or potential mistakes and understand the evolution of our domain in full color, id est in the real socio-economic, technical, cultural and political context.

  1. Action Plan

Even a detailed Action Plan cannot be established now, the main directions of work can be defined as a base for future activities. Thus, besides organizational issues, which are quite consistent when starting a new WG, we have so many things to do: most research directions started in Europe. We intend to find the pioneers in medical informatics in all European countries and prepare some articles or books dedicated to these topics.

  • The first important objective of the ETMI WG would be the collection of materials from Europe for the volume dedicated to national societies.

Other points in the working plan would include:

  • organization of workshops on historical views in all EFMI events, connected to major chapters of medical informatics, in co-operation with the corresponding WGs
  • preparation of an archive of documents, available for the analysis of trends
  • publication of articles or books occasionaly, related to various events or persons
  • preparation of periodic informative notes for the EFMI website
  • close ollaboration with IMIA WG History for potential common actions.


  1. Organization

As proposed during the preparation of the proposal, for the beginning the WG will be led by:


  • Second, we will invite all EFMI societies to have a national society representative and at the first (online) meeting the three more members of the Board and a secretary will be elected.


  • Next, we will try to identify some prestigious scientists from the best outlined directions / chapters / topics of medical informatics (to explore the possibility to organize events and / or publish articles or books).

If you want to become a member of the ETMI Working Group, please contact with the Chair of the Working Group