DMEA is the largest European digital health exhibition. This year’s main topic was the electronic health record (EHR). Beginning of 2019, Bertelsmann published a study ranking 17 international countries in terms of digital maturity. Germany occupies seat 16 whereas Switzerland is 14th. This result is mainly due to the EHR progress.
Jens Spahn, the German minister of health, opened the DMEA on Tuesday, the 9th of April. He gave a witful speech underlying Germany’s need to catch up in terms of digital health. In 2004, Germany positioned themselves as one of the pioneers of digital health with its Health Modernization Act. They created the Gematik to address the electronic health card and build a national telematics infrastructure. Today, the Gematik is criticized for the delay. The government has now decided to acquire the majority stake of the Gematik to accelerate the process (scheduled in May 2019).
To achieve this objective, one not-for-profit organization has lead the movement since 1987 and created an international standard. Health Level Seven International (HL7) is widely recognized as the number one option for an interoperable standard. HL7’s latest version, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), has recently attracted particularly more attention for to its compatibility with mobile devices.
While the rest of the world is adopting HL7 at a fast pace, Germany has been struggling to enforce it. This has not stopped companies from growing. DMEA exhibited many companies with highly innovative solutions. We selected three fields which were of particular interest.
Electronic Patient Record
Vivy: Supported by over 20 German insurance companies, Vivy has developed an electronic health act empowering patients to make better use of their data. They can directly schedule appointments with doctors, store their medical documents and share them with whom they want. The app reminds the patient about their appointments (including vaccines)
Grapevine world: This visionary company is preparing the future. They would like to use blockchain to provide an international EHR, where the patient can monetize their data.
Sword health: Today, 90% of patients given physiotherapy exercises to do at home do not do them conveniently and lack the necessary regularity. Sword health provides a personal digital physiotherapist. The Ipad app gives instructions on how to perform the exercise correctly. Using body sensors, this technology can monitor the patient's stance and give live feedback on their performance. Once the session is over the physiotherapist can visualize the patient’s progress asynchronously.
Patient journey App: Pre- and post-operative communication often lack sufficient transparency and regular updates. The Patient journey app guides the patient from the day they first meet with the doctor until the day they are fully healed.
Ariana: The interaction between the doctor and the patient is generally very unpersonal and short. Asking questions during a treatment is difficult for patients due to the formality of the relationship and the lack of adequate means (e.g. phone, email). Ariana is a chatbot which enables the patient to talk about their health in an informal way. The chatbot responds like a friend giving the correct medical advice.
Bosch: Malfunction of devices in hospitals may have dreadful consequences. Moreover a lot of data is being collected on the activities of employees and patients but is not used. Bosch is currently creating a digital twin of the hospital building. They simulate the effects of malfunctions and measure the benefits of modifying/adding technologies.
DMEA offered a vision of the state of digital health mainly in german-speaking countries but also in the rest of world. The main observation we made is that many companies provide innovative and truly beneficial solutions, many of which are very successful. However, Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland are currently at the bottom of the Bertelsmann ranking and this has a lot to do with the electronic health record. Bridging this gap would allow these innovative companies to strive even more.
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