Successful Debut for DMEA sparks

DMEA - Connecting Digital Health16 - 18 June 2020, Berlin, Germany.
DMEA sparks opened, featuring a wide range of topics. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn kicked off events. In his interview he focused on the coronavirus contact-tracing app, which was presented to coincide with DMEA sparks. "It is decentralised, voluntary and complies with the DSGVO" - which according to Spahn were only a few of the requirements. Only if people widely accepted the app and large numbers installed it would it be able to fulfil its purpose, he said. This was to alert users if they had come into contact with an infected person, even anonymously, or while travelling on public transport. During Germany's presidency of the EU Council the next step would be to establish common ground in order to make it possible to exchange health data.

Spahn was convinced "a good app is like good medication", which was why he wanted to move forward with the digital transformation of the healthcare system. "Over the past two years we have achieved more than in the previous ten years". The electronic patient file (ePF) would definitely be up and running on 1 January 2021 - even if afterwards there might still be some adjustments. It was important to get it under way. The ePF and ePrescriptions represented a starting point, he said.

Interoperability was another area he wanted to drive forward, as open interfaces and a common language were prerequisites for a digitally interconnected healthcare system.

Dr. Markus Leyck Dieken in the 'hot seat'

At this year's edition of the eHealth Hot Seat Dr. Markus Leyck Dieken, managing director of gematik, took questions from the audience (exclusive link to the video clip). The focus was mainly on the electronic patient file, which Leyck Dieken described as "an extremely important vehicle for the future of healthcare."

It had huge potential which was often still underestimated, he said. Leyck Dieken envisaged a 'biological file' containing comprehensive data beginning at date of birth, which would accompany patients throughout their entire life. Knowledge of pre-existing conditions within a person's family for example could assist preventive care and treatment of diseases. A joint effort had to be undertaken by all health insurance companies to ensure that the ePF met with swift success. Furthermore, the introduction of national contact points laid the foundation for a Europe-wide exchange of data, he said.

Coronavirus as a driving force of digitalisation

Prof. Dr. Jörg Debatin, head of the Health Innovation Hub (hih) at the Federal Ministry of Health, focused on how the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the digital transformation of the healthcare system.

In his opinion the pandemic had triggered substantial change. 72 per cent of hospital operations had had to be postponed. At the same time there was a vast increase in the use of digital technology. More than 50 per cent of doctors had conducted video consultations. New and innovative tools were being employed. A CoronaBot answered citizens’ frequently asked questions, which freed up hotlines. Covid-19 home monitoring helped with local health authorities’ efforts and the Robert Koch Institute had received more than 500,000 pieces of information based on data from fitness trackers.

The introduction of Corona Component Standards (Cocos), an initiative that involved a number of healthcare players, had laid the foundation for common standards and interoperability. The aim now was to maintain the digital transformation's momentum, Debatin said. A start had been made with projects such as the ePF, ePrescriptions and DiGA Fast Tracks, he added.

Man and machine in the healthcare system

In her keynote speech, Prof. Dr. Dr. Frauke Rostalski, a member of the German Ethics Council, said the relationship between man and machine was particularly sensitive in the healthcare system.

Digital technology such as AI and machine learning had many advantages, X-ray analysis in cancer diagnostics, for example. However, there was a danger this did not sufficiently take scientific progress into account as AI only learned from past data. Practicians risked losing their expertise by relying too heavily on machines and no longer analysing data themselves, she said.

One needed to avoid humanising machines too easily, an example being the use of humanoid robots in nursing care. They could create an atmosphere of trust among patients and benefit treatment, she said. However, this could also trigger an opposite effect if they did not meet "human behaviour" expectations.

Action-packed programme until 18 June

At the end of day one of DMEA sparks, at the DMEA Newcomer Award, honours were presented for the best Bachelor's and Master's degree papers. Topics focused on by the winners included the development of a digital cognitive test for multiple sclerosis patients, interactive speaker pillows for treating autism in children, and the question as to how neuronal networks can help restore walking functions in stroke patients for example.

DMEA sparks will run until 18 June. On the remaining days the focus is on companies’ innovations, which will be presented at webinars and on virtual tours. Last-minute registration is still possible for those interested in taking part. Participation is free.

Full details of the programme of DMEA sparks can be found here.

Starting on 19 June all the content of day one as well as many other items will be available on the DMEA sparks website.

About DMEA

DMEA is Europe’s leading event for health IT which gathers decision-makers from every area of the healthcare sector – including IT specialists, physicians, hospital and nursing care executives as well as experts from politics, science and research. In 2019 a total of 11,000 trade visitors came to DMEA to find out about the latest developments and products, acquire qualifications and establish important industry contacts. The next edition of DMEA will take place from 13 to 15 April 2021 in Berlin.

DMEA is held by the German Association of Healthcare IT Vendors (bvitg) and organised by Messe Berlin. DMEA is organised in cooperation with the following industry associations: the German Association of Healthcare IT Vendors (bvitg), the German Association for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology (GMDS), the German Medical Informatics Professional Association (BVMI). The National Association of Hospital IT Managers (KH-IT) and the Chief Information Officers of University Hospitals (CIO-UK) provide contributions on the subject matter.

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