Norwegian past IFHE president Ole Rist: ‘Education is the key to development in all countries’

Published on 27 juli 2015

In 2016 the Dutch NVTG will host the world congress for global umbrella organisation IFHE, the International Federation of Hospital Engineering. We will inform you of all aspects of this grand event in the upcoming editions of this newsletter and in the journal FMT Gezondheidszorg. Several of the NVTG’s international sister organisations will be introduced in the NVTG newsletters. This edition features the introduction of the Norwegian Forum for Sykehusenes Tekniske Ledelse (FSTL) and its president Ole Rist, past IFHE president.

IFHE worldcongress 2016 in World Forum in The Hague

‘The FSTL is a small, but active organisation of about 60 hospitals. The association’s goal is connecting hospitals’ technical managers in order to create a network. Unlike the Dutch NVTG, the FSTL does not have commercial businesses among its members. Commercial businesses do make a valuable contribution to the FSTL’s work by their support of the organisation’s two annual conferences, for which all facilities managers are invited. ‘In the past, we have organised two Congresses on behalf of the IFHE in Norway’, says Ole Rist, who has been an IFHE member since 1990.

Norwegian summary

‘The 2014 IFHE Congress in Argentina was very good. We have published a summary of the entire event on our website. Perhaps not all topics were equally relevant, but it did give all participants a good insight into the nature of the problems technical managers in healthcare are confronted with. There were rather a lot of lectures about architecture. I greatly value the IFHE network because it enables its members to meet colleagues and friends.’

‘The small-scale, informal conversations. I do regret the absence of the World Health Organisation, the WHO. I truly believe the IFHE will be able to make a positive contribution to international healthcare. Personal interaction leads to a better understanding between people from different countries. The IFHE network is very important to our organisation; it connects the FSTL with the rest of the world. It is of great importance there is positive exchange of knowledge between countries on a global level. Through the IFHE we come into contact with people from many different countries. I hope more and more countries will recognise the importance of joining the IFHE.’

‘There are plenty of challenges yet ahead and we have to realise that in order to ensure a healthy future, we must come to an agreement on several points regarding the environment, climate and education. I think the IFHE as an institution doesn’t really speak to the average FSTL member. They focus on their day-to-day work and do not get involved with ‘foreign affairs’. For many of them, the language barrier will be an issue as well.’

Driving force

‘The IFHE can be a driving force for better education. Education is the key to development in all countries. It pains me to see how some ideologies ignore the importance of education for women. We must work to break down these barriers. It’s important that we try to create funds to educate more technical managers for hospitals. Together we can make a difference. The most important role I see for the IFHE is to promote and offer more education. As experts on facility management and related fields, we can offer technical managers from less prosperous countries practical education in our own hospitals. Every year, we could offer 60 student technicians a traineeship in our Norwegian hospitals. That’s easy to arrange and absolutely affordable. Proper education is the key to prosperity. All it takes is will power.’

‘The FSTL had the honour of hosting the 2002 and 2012 IFHE Congresses, and both events were organised by the same group of people. Our main goal was the exchange of knowledge, but we also found real enjoyment in organising these congresses. We received many positive reactions from the participants and we were very pleased and proud that they viewed the congress as a valuable experience.’

Important congress

I expect the 2016 congress in the Netherlands to be very well organised, with good lectures, a perfect social programme and an excellent exposition. I hope to meet many old and new friends and to return home feeling I have attended an important congress. As yet I do not know how many FSTL members will attend the Congress in the Netherlands next year.’

Ole Rist: ‘Proper education is the key to prosperity’
‘Personal interaction leads to a better understanding between people from different countries.’

Ole Rist

Darryl Pitcher from the Australian IHEA: IFHE is an important forum for quality improvement in healthcare

2016 is almost upon us and the Dutch NVTG’s preparations for the World Congress of the International Federation of Hospital Engineering (IFHE) are in full swing. In the previous editions of our newsletter we’ve introduced the presidents of several of the NVTG’s international sister organisations. In this edition we introduce Darryl Pitcher, past president of the Australian ‘Institute of Hospital Engineering’ (IHEA) and member of the IFHE’s Executive Committee. The IHEA will be hosting the 2018 IFHE Congress, and the Australian delegation will therefore visit the 2016 IFHE Congress in the Netherlands with more than average interest.

The IHEA is very similar to its Dutch counterpart the NVTG. The organisation describes itself as ‘the relevant professional organisation for engineers and engineering facility managers employed in the private and public health care sectors, from the smallest to the largest facility’. Like the NVTG, the organisation also has commercial businesses among its members, such as architects and consulting engineers. Networking and the exchange of knowledge are key points within the IHEA.


Darryl Pitcher looks back on the 2014 World Congress in Buenos Aires organised by the Argentine sister organisation AADAIH with satisfaction. During that congress the IHEA was successful in its bid for the organisation of the 2018 Congress. Pitcher: ’It was an excellent opportunity for us to meet colleagues from all over the world and share our passion for technology in healthcare. The session about sustainability and the “greening” of the health care sector was of special interest to me since that’s the topic I focus on within the IFHE. This made the session with Francois Bester and Scott Slotterback extra valuable.’

Quality improvement

Pitcher considers the IFHE an important forum for quality improvement in healthcare. “The IFHE is a platform for meeting colleagues and sharing knowledge and experiences. The organisation’s global character has resulted in an excellent international network which includes important organisations such as the World Health Organisation. It’s a platform where wealthy countries can support less prosperous countries to boost the level of facility management in healthcare. Sharing knowledge and experiences with colleagues from different countries is always useful.’

Presentations and seminars on topics of global relevance are key to the exchange of knowledge and experiences. That is an important factor for the IFHE, which offers its members the opportunity of knowledge exchange through congresses, publications, newsletters and the IFHE website. It is crucial that the number of members keeps increasing so we can take away the barriers that might hinder interaction and the sharing of knowledge.

The international character of the IFHE offers our own members increased opportunities for personal growth and interaction, on a larger scale than our own organisation has to offer. Knowing that colleagues in other regions and countries encounter the same challenges and frustrations, does not only encourage us, it also offers support and leads to solutions. That is extremely valuable. Technological developments are shared, and the IFHE offers plenty of opportunities to start and maintain networks.

Through its member organisations and supporting organisations, the IFHE can assist countries with emerging markets, and allow them to benefit from available knowledge, management trainings and professional development. The more prosperous countries can also provide superfluous stock and equipment (along with the necessary assistance) to countries who need them, or to areas affected by disaster or calamity. Regional support should be on the agenda of prosperous nations, in order to create opportunities that enable the improvement of healthcare in emerging markets. I myself have been involved in an initiative of this sort where the IFHE and IHEA supported a project in hospital engineering in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The IHEA will be hosting the 2018 IFHE Congress, an event our colleagues in Australia are very much looking forward to. ‘We believe we have a lot to offer in the field of building engineering, healthcare and expertise. Our focus will be on getting colleagues from our region involved in sharing the global experience in Queensland in October 2018, to promote learning experiences with the potential of creating a regional partnership of technical managers in healthcare for the Asian Pacific area. We would also love to show the world that Australia is a wonderful travel destination.


Darryl Pitcher says he is looking forward to the World Congress in The Hague. ‘Dutch hospitality is legendary. I’m really looking forward to that. The enthusiasm with which the Congress was promoted last year in Buenos Aires is a great portent of a top quality congress with many interesting presentations, tours, technical documents and networking opportunities. Naturally, we will be promoting our own 2018 Congress while we’re there.’ Because of the great distance between Australia and the Netherlands, Pitcher does not have high hopes of Australian healthcare institutions entering projects for the International NVTG BuildingAward 2016, but he does promise to bring the international building award to the attention of the IHEA members.