At the spring meeting of the Austrian Society of Hematology and Medical Oncology (OeGHO), a new president was elected: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hilbe, head of the first medical service of the Wilhelminenspital, succeeds his predecessor, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Petzer is a highly developed professional company. Cancer: help! asked the new president of OeGHO for an interview. (cancer: help! 5/19)
Cancer: Help !: Previously, you were already 2nd Vice President, so you have actively contributed to shaping in recent years. What were your goals?
Hilbe: Two essential points are important to me. We have a huge increase of knowledge in our field. Every seven years, knowledge in the field of hematology and oncology doubles. Here, on the one hand, we need to make sure that we bring that knowledge very quickly to patients so that they can benefit from it. On the other hand, we need to integrate knowledge into the training of young doctors.
What does this mean specifically for training?
We have a higher requirement for future hematologists and oncologists. At the same time, however, the 2015 training reform has de facto shortened training. We need to make up for the time we need and make it even more intensive in order to turn young doctors into specialists in critical analysis.
How would you like to promote this critical analytical expertise?
All physicians must critically analyze what they observe and diagnose in the patient in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and, subsequently, to find the optimal treatment. This questioning makes a good hematologist and oncologist. The important thing is the transfer of knowledge. This is why we are investing in training, but also wish to expand the Onkopedia guidelines, which we have developed with our German DGHO colleagues. We publish here the current guidelines of experts in hematology and oncology and make them available to the public.
You see yourself as the patient advocate – how do you position the OeGHO here?
We have a clear mission to care for patients. The key question is how we can respond to patient requests. Everything is a question of infrastructure. Here we must highlight the gaps and difficulties of patients and put pressure on them to improve them. We must therefore be an opinion maker in the interest of the patient. When you follow the political discussion in the field of health, you sometimes have the impression that everything is a question of economic factors. As one of the largest medical societies, we must counterbalance. We have a responsibility to patients who are entitled to the best possible medical care. This does not mean that everything possible is meaningful. But what makes sense must be done.
What are the specific projects in which you have been involved as OeGHO?
We can not do politics or tell politicians what to do, but we can report problems. And we can promote and expand the networks. Here we can already show successful projects. Highlights include the Upper Austrian Cancer Network, the CCC in Innsbruck and the Vienna Cancer Center in Vienna. This networking creates a transfer of knowledge and, ultimately, the best possible therapy for the patient. The challenge here is the computer networking of different systems. There is a very promising project in Styria, where general practitioners are involved and can see in the system, where their patients are, as the treatment progresses. This allows the attending physician to accompany patients much better, even outside the intramural area.
What is the importance of research?
Research is an important topic for us, especially clinical research. We observe internationally that the number of patients included in clinical trials is decreasing. Here we must take countermeasures.
What are the reasons for the drop of participants in the study?
On the one hand, admission conditions have changed, on the other hand, today, we often conduct research on very small groups with certain diseases or certain biomarkers. Due to precision medicine, "large volume studies", which epidemiologically examine an entire population, are usually no longer necessary and therefore no longer necessary. Today, we often have only a few hundred patients as part of a study conducted worldwide. On the other hand, there are many more drugs and therapies available that require clarification. The trend is more, but smaller studies. As a professional society, our task is to promote by ourselves the clinical studies in Austria. Clinical studies are not only important for patients, because they should benefit from the best possible treatment, but are also an economic factor.
What can you do as a professional society to force clinical trials?
We are not the financiers of studies, we do not have these funds. But what we are doing is providing a platform for research. On the one hand, this platform is available at our congresses, where we give colleagues the opportunity to present the results of their studies. On the other hand, we also want to motivate young researchers, for example with display awards or innovation.
In recent years, the professional society has developed strongly – currently more than 800 members. What was the key to growth?
A multitude of factors certainly play a role here. But we have invested a lot in collecting and bringing benefits to our younger colleagues. In the past, you only started when you were an adult, it has now changed. In addition, not only are hematologists and oncologists represented in our professional society, but also basic research scientists, biotechnologists and other related disciplines are coming to us. We managed to set up an attractive network, also for the others.
Strong growth is also a challenge …
Yes, the challenge lies above all in communication. How to contact 800 members, what can I offer them? And how can I transfer knowledge to oncology and hematology patients?
How does OeGHO address its different target groups?
Of course, as a professional corporation, we communicate with our target groups on many levels. On the one hand, we speak directly to students and doctors through training and continuing education opportunities and conferences. On the other hand, we send via the website to doctors and patients, where we inform about seminars or publish statements about current developments, such as those concerning methadone.
The OeGHO has not one, but four websites. How is communication on such different channels?
Keeping websites up-to-date is a daunting task. In the long term, it is planned to merge the sites and have only one website, each with different levels. But it's a huge challenge. We are just a small team, most of them are volunteers. In fact, only our general manager and a staff responsible for training activities are employed by the company. Everyone does – like me – volunteer. Here we must definitely determine if and how we can develop our structures.
Does this also apply to the training track?
In education and training, we started the Onconovum Academy about two years ago. It is a separate GmbH, where the OeGHO acts as a carrier. We offer here training and development seminars as well as development events. This is now very well established and the events are very well received.
What does it mean in numbers?
At the spring meeting in Linz, we had about 1,000 participants at the "Best of ASCO" 300. We then have a number of smaller events, each with 50 to 100 participants. It's a very good coverage of which we are satisfied. But we are also careful to offer a high quality program. This is particularly important for younger colleagues who are very critical of the benefits of training.
Thanks for the interview!
About Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hilbe
Born in Tyrol, Wolfgang Hilbe completed his medical studies in Innsbruck and started there in 1992 with a research fellowship at Leopold Franzens University. In 2002, he received specialist training in hematology and oncology. In 2004, he became qualified and was appointed associate professor. In 2008 he was appointed deputy director of the Innsbruck University Hospital, specializing in hematology and oncology. In 2014, he moved to Vienna in the Wilhelminenspital, where he runs since the 1st Medical Department, as well as the Center for Oncology and Hematology with an ambulatory and palliative care unit.
reThe new presidency of the OGE
In addition to two new additions, changes have been made to the roles of those already involved in OeGHO's board of directors. He is not new to the board of OeGHO, but in his capacity as first vice-president is Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ewald Wöll (KH Zams). He already found his previous job as secretary of the OeGHO very interesting. The additional volunteer work is offset by its ability to help shape the future working conditions of oncologists and / or the treatment situation of cancer patients. "My particular interest is in the promotion of hematology and internal medicine in oncology at all levels and in interdisciplinary cooperation, and in doing so, it is important to recognize, deal with and respond quickly to future challenges, in order to propose solutions, "said Wöll. He greatly appreciates the strategic development and cooperation within the OeGHO, but also the good cooperation with the colleagues of the German and Swiss boards of directors. "It inspires our work by being over-the-counter," he says.
His former position will be taken over by Priv.-Doz, who recently joined OeGHO's board of directors. Dr. Birgit Grünberger (Klinikum Wiener Neustadt). Asked about his motivation for this extra voluntary work, Grünberger said: "When I asked him if I would like to do it, it was already clear that this would involve a number of appointments and additional obligations. I find that the new wind is blowing on the OeGHO and that I can make an important contribution. "As priorities that matter to her, she calls for the promotion of young colleagues, the advancement of women and a closer cooperation between all disciplines, for example when creating common guidelines. Referring to the theme of the Spring Congress, Digitization, he generally views this increase as a positive development. "But you have to use it to make the most of the benefits," she says.
The new vice-president, Prof. Univ. Dr. Wolfgang Eisterer (Klinikum Klagenfurt). Univ. Dr. Andreas Petzer (Linz Medical Center) as Past President, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Köstler, PhD, (MedUni Vienna) as Treasurer, as well as Univ.-Doz. Dr. Holger Rumpold (Landeskrankenhaus Feldkirch) and University-Prof. Dr. Paul Höcker (Emeritus Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine AKH / MedUni Vienna) as statutory auditor, continues to belong to the Board of Directors.