Digitalisation - Top Priority for the Health Care Industry
By Dr. Kai Bindseil
Medical doctors and the healthcare industry have always been professionals in analysing data for patient treatment, drug research and development, respectively. Today they are dealing with an unprecedented growth of vast and diverse data form personal health records, wireless devices, healthcare-focused smartphone apps etc. However, they are just beginning to develop capabilities, assets and the legal framework to use these data.
We are in the beginning of a digital revolution that effects everything. The opportunities for interdisciplinary digital health research bringing together computer science to dramatically improve public health, global health and wellbeing of individuals and populations globally are extraordinary. Digitalization of healthcare will revolutionize patient care in the same way that the invention of x-ray technology or the discovery of antibiotics did. It can contribute to the research of new treatment options, to cost reductions and to the active participation of civil society in personal health management.
A top location for digital health
The terms eHealth, mHealth, Digital Health or Health IT describe the process of digitalization within the healthcare sector. Key players in this development are based in the German capital region Berlin-Brandenburg. This area is considered one of Europe's most attractive life science and healthcare locations with its comprehensive portfolio of companies, research institutes, clinics, service providers and established networks. Gathering more than 600 biotech, pharmaceutical and medtech companies, as well as 130 hospitals, the region is also an important hub of the IT industry including a growing number of IT companies focused on the healthcare market. This environment provides ideal conditions for the development, evaluation and marketing of innovative digital health solutions.
Telemedicine and big data
Telemedicine and electronic health information exchange are among the most important topics that are actively addressed by the stakeholders in the Berlin-Brandenburg cluster for healthcare industries and life sciences. Several high-profile international research projects and clinical trials on telemedicine (FONTANE, CardioBBEAT) in Berlin-Brandenburg lead to new scientific data and foster the development of marketable telemedical products by industrial partners.
One of the cluster's key topics is the development and application of big data technologies within medicine. Specialized in precision and system medicine, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) under the auspices of TU Berlin, or the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering (HPI) in Potsdam are shaping the future at an international level.
Startup meets grownup
With their innovative spirit and digital expertise, startups deliver fresh solutions for digital transformation in the healthcare industry. The German capital region is home to over one hundred digital health startups, and the numbers are growing each year. They develop mobile apps and wearables to empower patients suffering from chronic diseases and to assist in their self-management. State-of-the-art technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data accelerate new applications.
The regional startup ecosystem is highly self-organized and offers young pioneers a broad range of events such as meet-ups, barcamps, seed camps and hackathons. Increasing numbers of global players and companies based in Berlin are seeking to forge contacts with startups to invent new digital products and methods for the healthcare market. Berlin hosts over 60 accelerators and incubators, many of them in the healthcare sector, including the Bayer Grants4Apps Accelerator, the helios.hub by the hospital operator Helios, the Berlin Healthcare Lab by Pfizer, the Flying Health Incubator, and the Startupbootcamp. A large number of private- and public-sector investors complement these services in funding programs that bolster the immense potential.
Digital and analog, perfectly connected
The German capital region is not just a centre of research and development; it is also a place, where international opinion leaders get together for events, conferences and expos. The annual highlights include conhIT, Europe's most important industry event for healthcare IT. Here, the cluster frequently uses its home advantage, offering insight into the innovative power of the digital health industry at the joint Berlin-Brandenburg booth and at business meetings, startup showcases and excursions to local players. In addition to Parliament, government and national agencies, associations for business and science are headquartered in Berlin. The capital, with its proximity to federal ministries, embassies and organizations provides easy access to decision-makers in research and development, production and sales.
Dr. Kai Bindseil is Head of Division Life Science / Healthcare Industries at Berlin Partner and Clustermanager HealthCapital Berlin Brandenburg. Dr. Bindseil is mainly responsible for innovation management, technology transfer and attracting new enterprises to the region.
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