Germany expands Medical Informatics Initiative

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) continues to pave the way for innovation by extending its Medical Informatics Initiative (MII). According to the BMBF, one of the main objectives of the program is to reliably and rapidly provide digitized data from routine medical care for research.

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The three-phase Medical Informatics Initiative began in 2016, with nine-months dedicated to concept development. During this period, the program supported seven consortia made up of university hospitals working in conjunction with partners from higher educational and research institutions, non-university hospitals, and healthcare organizations. In phase one, the consortia created solutions for shared data use and exchange, worked on concrete applications for data exchange, and developed plans for data integration centers.

The second phase, known as the “development and networking phase,” is set to conclude at the end of 2022. So far, the MII has supported chosen consortia to implement their solutions from phase one with more than EUR 200 million. These activities include establishing data integration centers and developing IT solutions for their use cases. The consortia are also facing an external audit as the end of phase two approaches. The audit is being carried out to determine whether the groups have successfully added value for research or patient care, and verify that data exchange is possible between consortia.

The final “consolidation and further development phase” has been approved to take place from 2023 to 2026. This is when the program makes available solutions that have proven viable to additional university hospitals, and potentially to other hospitals and research institutions. To ensure researchers, doctors and, ultimately, patients, benefit from these advances as much as possible, further actors will be involved in data exchange. These could include outpatient care and private clinics, for example. The BMBF says the funding level will be similar to phase two.

Meanwhile, the MII is already registering its first successes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CODEX research data platform (in German) was vital in providing a secure, expandable, and interoperable platform for research on the virus. The platform linked university hospitals all around Germany, to make scientifically structured, high-quality data available and pave the way for new types of assessment.

The export initiative for the German health care industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, is the place to learn more about the MII and similar BMBF and other similar, German government programs. HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY has also made a video DIGITAL HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY that provides an overview of the digital health sector in the country.