German hospitals at the forefront of digitization drive

Germany's government committed itself to digitizing healthcare in its coalition accord. One target set out in the agreement is ensuring that by the year 2021 electronic patient records (elektronischePatientakte, ePA) are available for all Germans.

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The ePA is just part of a drive to digitize that has triggered many projects at the country's hospitals. The activities are generating demand in markets for healthcare technology in Germany and abroad. Markets Germany, has cited analysts saying that the value of the digital health market – from electronic records to intelligent instruments – is expected to reach EUR 187 billion by 2020.

A major example of the effort to digitize hospitals and healthcare is the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) of Germany's Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Launched in 2016, its objective is to provide doctors, patients, and researchers access to the information they need while simultaneously allowing individuals to maintain control over their personal data. The initiative has designated four consortia made up of many university hospitals and partners such as research and higher education institutions, businesses, and non-university hospitals which are cooperating to develop a broad range of products and systems.

The Hamburg-Eppendorf University Hospital (UKE) is taking part in the MII. UKE has introduced an ePA and become one of Europe's first hospitals to implement a hospital information system (HIS) that is accessible at all its facilities all the time. In developing the ePA, the UKE cooperated with the American company Cerner, while the company ID-Berlin contributed in the area of medication.

Leipzig University Hospital is also active in the MII and is home to the Innovation Center for Computer Assisted Surgery (ICCAS), where IT experts, engineers, and doctors are working together to develop modular software solutions that improve efficiency and safety in the operating room. New IT and assist technologies are being created for this purpose.

Germany's commitment to smarten its healthcare system has spawned many innovative healthcare digitization programs and projects around the country. Markets Germany reports that ApoQlar of Hamburg, for example, has already equipped seven German hospitals with its Virtual Surgery Intelligence (VSI) solution, which some say could eventually replace computers and monitors in the operating room.

These activities reflect the strength and potential of digital health in Germany. The Export Initiative for the German Healthcare Industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, has published a profile that provides an ideal means for individuals and businesses from abroad to become acquainted with the sector. Markets Germany is the journal of the inward investment agency for the Federal Republic of Germany, Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI).

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