How does technology affect care

Digitization in medicine

A good 75 years ago, when Konrad Zuse presented the world's first programmable computer in Berlin, doctor's letters, findings and research results were still handwritten on paper or on a typewriter. Most people today have smartphones that fit in their pockets, are more powerful than previous supercomputers and can be used to communicate, stream music or measure their heart rate. There is no end in sight to this rapid technological development. This also applies to the rapidly growing amount of health-related data:

  • Medical data such as anamnesis, blood values ​​or findings are recorded directly in computer systems in medical practices.
  • Complete genomes, such as those of malignant tumors, are almost routinely sequenced in biomedical research and also stored and processed electronically.
  • And more and more people are also using smartphone apps, wearables and, in the future, possibly implanted biosensors, to continuously measure blood pressure, blood sugar levels or the pulse.

Link data intelligently

The intelligent linking of these huge amounts of different data through increasingly powerful IT systems offers the possibility of drawing a dynamic and holistic picture of the health of every single person.

That was completely unthinkable 75 years ago.

Better diagnosis and therapy

The increasing digitization of social life is changing the demands on modern health care and at the same time offers opportunities for a more efficient health system. In the future, the networking and processing of health data will increasingly make it possible to design better diagnostic procedures and therapies tailored to the individual. Further examples are telemedical applications in cardiology, for example, which enable better care for people in rural regions, or the development of new types of therapy: online therapies, for example, are increasingly used to treat depression. Data is therefore an important resource for future health research and care. In the case of sensitive health data in particular, basic aspects must also be taken into account, in particular who is allowed to determine the use of the data collected.

Funding from the Federal Ministry of Research

Some of the applications outlined above are already a reality today, others are still in development. With the high-tech strategy and the digital agenda, the federal government is laying the groundwork for innovation policy in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitization in Germany. In the new digital strategy “Digital Future: Learning. To research. Knowledge. ”The BMBF specifies its contribution and ties in directly with the strategy for artificial intelligence and the sustainability strategy of the federal government, the education offensive for the digital knowledge society and the cross-sectional program KMU-innovativ of the BMBF. With very specific funding priorities, the Federal Ministry of Research provides impetus at the crucial switching points.

Medical informatics

For example with the pioneering support concept for medical informatics. The aim is to establish digital infrastructures as a basis for the cross-location exchange of data and knowledge between care and research. This is the only way to fully exploit the potential of the available data and medical knowledge - for the benefit of the patient. The medium-term goal is to involve as many German clinics as possible as well as resident doctors and patients.

Big Data Centers

At the same time, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the development of new methods, for example to be able to evaluate the huge amounts of data in the first place. Two big data centers have been established in Berlin and Dresden / Leipzig, which are intensively looking for methods to integrate, evaluate and visualize large amounts of data. The German Network for Bioinformatics also deals with large amounts of data, for example from genome sequencing, and provides tools for the entire scientific community.

Business and science work together

In addition to method development, research into new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures is a long-term focus of the BMBF, which is dynamically adapted to the changing digital world. The BMBF is funding digital therapies and digital therapy support systems with the funding measure “Medical technology solutions for digital health care”, with which innovations for digital health care are initiated in cooperation with business, science and users. With the merging of computer science, mathematics, biology and medicine in the “Systems Medicine” funding priority, there is ultimately the hope of developing tailor-made therapies for each individual.

More efficient health system

In addition, key technologies are the basis for many innovations in the health sector. In particular, the widespread use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and their connection with other technologies such as photonics will enable better treatment of patients not only in clinics and medical practices, but also at the scene of an accident, at home or in disaster areas. They also lead to efficiency gains and savings potential for the health system and to new markets for companies.

Important funding priorities for technology funding are:

  • Interactive ICT technologies for patient-friendly medical technology,
  • Electronic systems for smart medical systems,
  • ICT for safe and reliable medical technology,
  • Photonic system solutions for medicine,
  • Networked production of medical technology systems economically and in the highest quality