Germany to develop digital health strategy

The digital strategy aims to define the general framework for the development of digital policy in Germany over the next few years. The government has said Germany needs a “full digital awakening” in order to be in the top 10 of Europe’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) by 2025. It ranks currently 13th out of 27.

The digital strategy addresses a range of issues, including the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing capabilities. Plans to make better use of technology and data in the health and care sector are also important. One of the goals in this regard is to develop a distinct strategy that advances the digitization of health and care.

The government has indicated its intention to listen to the suggestions and ideas of stakeholders. The participatory process will be followed by an intensive evaluation of the contributions, from which the strategy will then be defined. The strategy is expected to be presented in the spring of 2023.

The strategy development process began earlier this month at an event in Berlin. An online survey has been opened to collect the opinion of stakeholders, and specialized forums are also planned in the coming weeks.

Dr Julia Traumann and Marc L. Holtorf of Pinsent Masons in Munich said the new digital health strategy should build on content from the wider digital strategy (52-page / 522 KB PDF) submitted to the German parliament a few days ago by the German federal government, together with the existing provisions of the Digital Health Act.

“Germany is the third largest medical technology market in the world, after the United States and Japan, but by the government’s own admission there are downsides to the decentralized health system that operates in the country, which he described as “somewhat complex and slow to bring new models of care and innovations to market,” Holtorf said.

“Current challenges related to digitization in health and care include the implementation of the shift to electronic prescriptions, data protection issues related to the use of health data and the lack of skilled workers in the sector – not just in medicine, but in the context of digital skills,” Traumann said.

One of the axes of the digital strategy already published is the generalization of the electronic patient file.

The idea behind electronic patient records is that they allow healthcare practitioners to access up-to-date information about a patient at the point of care. Last year, a voluntary scheme was introduced to encourage holders of statutory health insurance in Germany to participate. The intention of the German federal government is to move to a system in which electronic patient records are automatically developed for the 73 million people with health insurance in the country, unless they actively withdraw from the program. . The government’s goal is to reach 80% by 2025.

Other goals of the digital strategy include moving to a system in which electronic prescriptions for medicines are the default solution and paper prescriptions only operate as a fallback option.

Increasing the availability of health care data for research and improving health care is another goal. Among other things, the government wants to encourage those with statutory health insurance to voluntarily give researchers access to their electronic medical records in an effort to advance medical research.

Initiatives to make health data more accessible to researchers align with the aims of new proposed EU legislation published earlier this year. A regulation providing for a new European Health Data Area (EHDS) has been drafted by the European Commission to store health data in the EHDS and make it accessible for research and development of new medical products .

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