Germany’s goal in becoming the EU leader in digital healthcare

Germany’s goal in becoming the EU leader in digital healthcare
© iStock/perihelio

Health Minister, Jens Spahn, has now made digital healthcare one of his top priorities for the German health system.

The German Parliament’s Health Committee is fleshing out with doctors, insurers and health industries’ representatives the draft Digital Supply Law that Spahn proposed earlier this year to embrace digital healthcare. The Health Ministry also wants to create an electronic health record for all insured patients by 2021. To address Germans’ long-standing concerns over privacy and personal data protection, according to the ministry, the government will introduce a separate law on the protection of health data in electronic patient records.

Plans to take on digital healthcare

The success or failure of Germany’s plans may be useful for the country next year, when it wants to make digital health and artificial intelligence European priorities, during its rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

Spahn and Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission, made the case earlier this month that Europe must come up with its own rules for how technology should be used to benefit society.

They argued that this framework should ideally be distinct from the USA and Chinese models, where either commercial or government interests prevail over those of individuals.

“In the German health care system, we aim for a governmental collection of data for which citizens can volunteer their anonymised data,” they wrote, as an example on data use. This database should be accessible under controlled conditions for researchers, who could use it to come up with “new, successful screening, treatment, medication or diagnostic procedures.”

Promote exchanges of health data

Germany wants to use its presidency to work on the European Health Data Space. According to von der Leyen, such a platform should be created to promote exchanges of health data and support research on prevention as well as on treatments, with EU citizens maintaining control on their data.

Moreover, Germany isn’t alone in the desire to embrace digital healthcare. Several smaller countries, for example, have moved to share e-prescriptions and patient summaries. At least 4,300 prescriptions have been exchanged since the beginning of the year between Finland and Estonia and more countries are embracing the idea.

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