Fairness in the Delivery of Health Care: An Examination of Pricing, Technology and People Issues

An ECI Conference

September 16-19, 2015
Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco
Barga, Italy

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Oral Abstract Deadline:      January 31, 2015
Poster Abstract Deadline:  January 31, 2015


About This Conference

Summary:  The delivery of health care is a major international issue.  Not only is the cost of the provision of this service increasingly burdensome, the way in which it is apportioned has become the subject of both ethical and practical consideration.  Currently, this matter is dealt with by governments, professional associations, individual pharmaceutical manufacturers, private insurance companies and charitable foundations but there has not been an overarching or underpinning set of principles that are accepted as the guidance for the promulgation of this aspect of social welfare. In particular, the ethical principles which guide the well meaning activities of these organizations rarely, if ever, openly discuss the issue of fairness in the provision of aid and support to those in greatest need.

It is projected, therefore, that the people who may contribute to and be informed by this conference will be drawn from all those who provide the material for healthcare as well as those who have a responsibility to allocate and deliver such benefits. The presence of members of those communities who are recipients of such provisions is essential so as to achieve views from all stakeholders in the health care delivery process. The meeting of those engaged in the delivery and receipt of health care provisions will enable interactions that will lead to a better understanding of what has been achieved, the lessons learned from those efforts and suggestions and innovations as to how this activity may be progressed and improved so as to achieve greater recognition of the enhancement of the fairness of the health care delivery process.

  • Who Should Attend:   Academics, Health care providers, Insurers, Government agencies, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Charitable Organizations and Professional OrganizationsBenefits of Conference to Attendees:  ECI holds new and innovative conferences in leading edge biomedical, biotechnology and engineering topics which are highly focused on important evolving areas of research.  Our meetings are patterned after the Gordon Conferences, but are much more interdisciplinary with participation from academics, government agencies, industry, and research institutions.  They are generally small side (50 – 150 participants), highly participative, and attract international attendees.  All attendees attend the same sessions together creating a more engaged environment for collaboration and discussion unlike most conferences.  Sessions can include invited keynote presentations, submitted papers, posters, and panel discussions or workshops.   Due to the design and size of the conferences, presentations are only from the top researchers in the evolving field. Our specific conference is intended as the first in a new series to explore the area of delivery of healthcare, bringing together attendees across multiple organizations who are struggling with this problem in an effort to begin an important dialogue and to share best practices and lessons learned to improve the fairness of healthcare delivery.  New technology solutions will also be explored and proposed models for government and industry partnerships to provide improved value to patients from the products they develop.

Conference Organization

Organizing Committee:

  • Co-chairRaymond E Spier, Emeritus Professor of Science and Engineering Ethics, University of Surrey, UK. (r.spier@surrey.ac.uk);
  • Co-chairBianca Buechner, PhD, LL.M., Affiliated Research Fellow Center for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS), Hannover, Germany and Affiliate Faculty Member Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Indianapolis, USA; (buechner.bianca@gmail.com)
  • Arthur Caplan, PhD,  Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics; Director, Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Population Health,New York University Langone Medical Center  (Arthur.Caplan@nyumc.org)
  • Dr. Mark Feinberg, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Policy, Merck and Co., Inc., USA (mark_feinberg@merck.com)
  • Prof. Dr. iur. Nils Hoppe, (CELLS) Center for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences, University of Hannover; nils.hoppe@cells.uni-hannover.de
  • Dr. Alessandro Blasimme, INSERM Toulouse and Fulbright Scholar, Harvard

ECI LiaisonsHerman Bieber (hermbieber@aol.com); Joye L. Bramble (jbramble@MORPHOTEK.com)

Abstract Submission

Currently we are soliciting speakers, session chairs, workshop chairs, and participants who are interested in providing case studies and engaging in active discussions and debate on the meeting topic.

Please contact either Ray Spier (r.spier@surrey.ac.uk) or Bianca Buechner (buechner.bianca@gmail.com).

In addition, original papers for oral or poster presentations are encouraged.  Please submit a one-page (extended) abstract online.

Oral Abstract Deadline:    January 31, 2015

Poster Abstract Deadline:           January 31, 2015

All abstracts should be submitted electronically and must follow the template provided at This Link.

Conference Venue

Hotel and Transportation Information
We anticipate that conference participants will arrive at the hotel on Saturday, January 17 prior to 4 pm.  If you wish to arrive on Friday or stay after the conference ECI will provide a pre/post conference hotel reservation form for you to send to the hotel.

The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Hotel and Conference Center is located in 2000 acres of natural park in Castelvecchio Pascoli (near Barga), the heart of Garfagnana, one of Tuscany’s most enchanted valleys.  It is 40 km (26 miles) from Lucca, 60 km (39 miles) from Pisa, and 110 km (74 miles) from Florence.  Located about 500 meters above sea level, the hotel overlooks SerchioValley and the ApuaneMountains. The hotel is located on a mountain, approximately 2 km from the main road. The conference facilities are excellent and the four-star hotel has 177 rooms, all air-conditioned, with bathroom and mini-bar.  The hotel offers laundry service and has an ATM.  One would need a car or taxi to go to Barga or Gallicano for shopping as there are no shopping facilities for toiletries on site.  You should plan to bring your own electrical adapters if your computer is not using a Europlug. The hotel also offers an outdoor swimming pool (May-September), fitness club, 8 tennis courts (1.5 km uphill from the hotel; there are some rackets and balls for loan), soccer/football, horse riding, ping pong, billiards, basketball, volleyball, bocce, mountain bike trails, piano bar/disco and games room.

Wireless is available and free in the meeting rooms, reception area and bar area, and main terrace.  Ask at the hotel reception desk for a username and password.  In-room internet access costs approximately € 8 per day.

If you plan to bring an accompanying person, you must register that person in advance with ECI as the accompanying person fee includes accommodations and all meals at the hotel for the duration of the conference.

Conference meals will be served in the La Veranda restaurant.  Vegetarian selections are provided at all meals; however, the hotel is not able to provide Kosher or Halal meals.

Local and Regional Highlights

Garfagnana – The area surrounding Il Ciocco is known as Garfagnana.  This mountainous region was once notorious for witches and its landmark is a medieval 93 meter-long parabolic stone arch supposedly built by the devil (“Devil’s Bridge – which you will see as you come from Pisa or Lucca to Il Ciocco).  The Serchio River has cut a dramatic course between the heavily forested Apennines on the east and the geologically older Apuan Alps to the west.  The Alpi Apuane stand out as one of the most original landscapes in Italy as its peaks appear snowy because of the gleaming white fissures left by quarrying marble.  Nearby is the Grotta del Vento, one of the largest stalactite caves in Europe.  The chief staple of the district until recently was flour made from chestnuts, and chestnut groves still cover much of the region.

Barga – Nearby is Barga, a town with ancient origins that was quite important in the Middle Ages because of the manufacture of silk threads.  It evolved from a Roman fort to a Lombard castle-town to Lucchese bishopric.  It is known for its historic monuments and artistic richness. The old city preserves its medieval layout but has numerous Renaissance buildings.  In the old town along the cobbled streets are antique and handicraft workshops that continue the traditional wood, ceramic and iron working.  The alleys cut with steps are called ‘carraie’. Its Romanesque cathedral (9th century with construction finishing in the 15th century), Duomo San Cristofano, dominates the skyline as it is located on the crown of the hill around which the entire town clusters.  Inside is a beautiful altarpiece with the 13th century Madonna del Molino, some Della Robbia terracottas and a marble pulpit (attributed to Guido Bigarelli) that is one of the most important medieval works of art in Tuscany.  One can get lovely views of the surrounding country from the garden adjacent to the cathedral.  These views include the valley of the river Serchio, the Apuan Alps that are renowned for their marble quarries, and the green Apennines.  Looking closely at the Apuan Alps, one can see a natural stone arch at Monte Forato that spans 30 meters. A good view of the arch can also be found from the veranda at Il Ciocco.

The Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli wrote poems about Barga.  His home and burial place are at the bottom of the hill leading to Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Hotel.

Potential Post-conference/Optional Excursion – Lucca

Lucca rivals any city in Italy for fascination and beauty.  One century flows into the next as you stroll along its streets. There will be a sign-up sheet at the hotel registration desk for those who are interested in participating.  Any museum entrance fees must be paid for individually.

Even if you plan to people-watch from an outdoor café, we recommend that you get a map at the tourist office. If you are interested in exploring the city, a guidebook would also be quite helpful.

With its Roman amphitheater turned piazza, medieval facades and bicycle-pedaling populace, the wall-encased, cozy city of Lucca is one of Tuscany’s finest treasures. Founded as a colony in 180 B.C., Lucca earned its fame a little more than a century later when Caesar, Pompey and Crassus met here to form the First Triumvirate in 56 B.C. The town emerged as one of Tuscany’s main trading posts in the 11th and 12th centuries, specializing in silk. At the height of its power in 1314 Lucca was seized by the Pisans and Ghibellines. But one of Lucca’s native sons, an adventurer named Castruccio Castranci, returned from exile and chased out the invaders within a year, seizing power for himself in the process. Lucca captured most of western Tuscany, but Castranci died of malaria shortly before he planned siege on Florence. In 1369, Emperor Charles IV granted independence to Lucca as a republic. This independence ended in 1805 when Napoleon gave the republic to his sister. It was later handed over to Napoleon’s widow Marie Louise, who governed well enough to be honored with a statue in the Piazza Napoleone. In 1847 her son sold the republic to Leopold II of Tuscany just in time for it to join the kingdom of Italy.

Today, Lucca (population about 100,000) is a peaceful, quiet town comparatively undiscovered by tourists despite its rich history and wealth of historic sites. A 12-meter high, 4-kilometer wall surrounds the city. Patrolling soldiers on the wall have been replaced by bicyclists and dog walkers. The 2nd century Roman amphitheater is now underground and its former exterior is a street. Lucca’s St. Martin’s Cathedral (or Duomo) exemplifies the Pisan style. Begun in the 11th century and not completed until the 15th, the cathedral’s arches, colonnades and pillars are accentuated by 12th and 13th century reliefs and sculptures. Inside are works by Lucca’s one and only great artist, Matteo Civitali. Also in the cathedrals is Lucca’s real icon, the Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto (1408) by Jacopo della Quercia. It’s an effigy of the young bride of Paolo Guinigi who died during childbirth at the age of 19.

The architectural beauty of its churches and piazzas are inspiring, but one of Lucca’s greatest cultural contributions has been music. It was home to a “singing school” in the 1st century, and produced composer Luigi Boccherini and most famously Giacomo Puccini, who produced some of the world’s favorite operas like Madame Butterfly and La Boheme.

Although relatively small in size, Lucca boasts many high-quality restaurants. Local specialties include zuppa di faro, a thick soup made with grain, and capretto, mountain goat, usually roasted. Polenta and river fish are also popular in Lucca, and the cuisine is enhanced with excellent local olive oil and wines. Food shops also offer delectable delights, from chocolate shops and bakeries to Pellegrini on Piazza San Michele where pizza is sold by the slice. The most famous café-bar in town is Caffe di Simo, once Puccini’s favorite haunt.

Some Lucca Sights

  • The Walls – The walls are the most astounding sight that Lucca has to offer. Prompted by the Wars of Italy, work started on the walls which still surround Lucca in 1500, they took nearly 100 years to complete and were never severely tested by attackers. Today, residents and tourists alike can ride bicycles along the walls. Rentals are available.
  • Amphitheater – The amphitheater was built during the 2nd century. For four centuries it was a place of huge spectacles. After it was abandoned, it became a source of building materials. What remained was radically changed during the Middle Ages – the ground was raised about 2.5-3 meters and the ruins were incorporated into row houses. Later it was used as a prison and salt warehouse, with continuous overlapping of structures that reached a maximum density in the 19th century. What we see today can be      attributed to Lorenzo Nottolino who rearranged the site in 1830. The additions and sheds were eliminated, the central nucleus was vacated to transform it into a piazza and the exterior freed of adjacent buildings, restored and surrounded by the street of the same name. Today the piazza is a truly impressive site. Only the entrance arch on the east side is original; all the others were rebuilt in the 19th century.
  • Palazzo Ducale and Piazza Napoleone – The focus of local’s passeggiata (evening stroll) is the Piazza Napoleone. Palazzo Ducale, described as an architectural hodgepodge, surrounds the piazza and was formerly the seat of the republican council.
  • Piazza San Michele – This was once the site of the Roman forum, and today it is the center of the city’s life.) Some buildings were removed from the square, such as the “Palatium civitatis”, the city hall that stood adjacent to the church. The seat of the municipal government moved to the Palazzo dell’Augusta in 1370. The Church  of San Michele was built in 1070 over the site of a religious building dating from 795. What we see today is an unfinished building; the vertical surge of the façade does not correspond to the section behind the nave, but leads us to imagine how big it would have been if the planned additional story had been built.
  • Church of San Romano The church is not open to public. There are 7th century records that mention an oratory within the confines of the castrum. It was built in stone in the 13th century by Dominican friars.
  • Church of Santi Giovanni e Reparata – This is a religious building of unusual origins. Excavations in 1969 revealed its archeological heterogeneity, and the fact that originally it was a pagan temple that had been transformed into a basilica. It was dedicated to St. John and St. Reparata and was the first cathedral of Lucca until the 8th century when its episcopal role was transferred to San Martino.
  • Cathedral of San Martino – The earliest records date back to the 6th century and it became the bishop’s seat in the 8th century. Its current form started to take shape in the 11th century.
  • Church of San Francesco – Begun in 1228 and modified to its current appearance in the 14th century, the church has a striped pink and white marble façade.
  • Diocesan Museum – The museum is a complex of recently restored medieval buildings situated on Piazza Antelminelli, opposite the cathedral.
  • Botanical Gardens – The primary role of the botanical gardens was to provide plants for the city’s mansions. The museum contains over 10,000 specimens of dried plants.
  • Via dell’ Aecivescovato – This street is famous for its antique shops.
  • Via del Fosso – The “fosso” or channel, derived from the Serchio River in 1376, was the waterway that protected the eastern side of the 13th century walls.
  • Villa Guinigi – Just outside the walls, the street was built in 1413 and is remarkable for its elongated shape and impressive size. Since 1968 it has been the home of the Museo Nazionale that contains artwork and examples of figurative culture from the Lucca area.
  • Torre delle Ore – This 13th century tower has survived perhaps because of its important public service – its clock has been telling time since 1471. It is an outstanding example among the 10 towers that once rose above the medieval city and were probably demolished to provide building materials for Castruccio Castracani’s Augusta fortress.

Day Trips for Guests

The Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Hotel typically offers a very reasonably priced day trip via van to a local area of interest (e.g., Siena) that may be of interest to guests of participants.  Information regarding day-trips will be

Travel Information

On Saturday, January 17 we expect to provide a bus to pick up conference participants from both the Pisa Airport and train station at 2:00 pm and 2:15 pm respectively.  Participants will receive notification if there will be an additional departure time; however, all participants should prepare for a departure as noted above. There are daily direct flights to Pisa from London, Paris and Frankfurt.  The railway station at Pisa is equally accessible as it is on the Tirrenia line where almost hourly Inter-City trains, among others, arrive from the South (Naples and Rome) and from northern Europe via Turin and Milan.

Please plan your arrival in Pisa to give you no less than an hour before the bus departs for the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco.  This will allow you ample time to clear customs and retrieve your luggage.  At past conferences many participants planned a Friday arrival in Pisa. If you arrive on Friday so that you can sightsee in Pisa before going to Il Ciocco on Saturday, we recommend that you select a hotel near the train station so that you can be picked up at the train station rather than returning to the airport with your luggage in tow.

The conference bus will return to the Pisa airport/train station after the conference adjournment/lunch on Tuesday afternoon.  Trains can conveniently transport you to Milan, Florence or Rome.

As the conference nears, the final details for bus transportation will be posted.

If you plan to come by auto, a map and driving directions are available on the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco web site.

Fees and Registration

Coming soon!

Program Summary

Click HERE to view the program summary.

Please forward this link to colleagues who may be interested in the conference topic.

ECI Information

Engineering Conferences International (ECI) is a global engineering conferences program, originally established in 1962, that provides opportunities for the exploration of problems and issues of concern to engineers and scientists from many disciplines.

The format of the weeklong research conference provides morning and late afternoon or evening sessions in which major presentations are made. Available time is included during the afternoons for ad hoc meetings, informal discussions, and/or recreation. This format is designed to enhance rapport among participants and promote dialogue on the development of the meeting. We believe that the conferences have been instrumental in generating ideas and disseminating information to a greater extent than is possible through more conventional forums.

All participants are expected both to attend the entire conference and to contribute actively to the discussions. The recording of lectures and presentations is forbidden. As ECI conferences take place in an informal atmosphere, casual clothing is the usual attire.

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