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Digital Ideas for Health Care

The supreme discipline of partner and customer management

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Cologne: 14.02.2018: Meeting within the framework of “Life Science meets Digital” in Cologne, companies from the life science industry came together with digitalization experts from the IT and telecommunications industry on 14 February 2018. The participants in the think tanks discussed the digital future of health care and the pharmaceutical industry. During this ninth edition of the meeting, managers from about 30 companies, including pharmaceutical corporations such as Pfizer, Novartis, or Merck and IT companies like Detecon, SAP, or Oracle, were in attendance. A major driver of the discussion was the question of how the quality of medical and pharmaceutical care can be secured now and in the future with the aid of digital solutions. The participants were all in agreement that services must be centered more strongly on patients. 

Presentations included the prototype of an open source marketplace for health care solutions. This concept of a “Digital Health Assistant” was developed jointly by experts from pharmaceutical and IT industries.  This open marketplace gives providers of health care services the opportunity to develop, upload, and retrieve digital solutions for patients as needed in specific cases. An intelligent pillbox, for example, monitors patients to make sure they take their medicine correctly and at the right times. It notifies patients if they have neglected to take their medicine as prescribed. At the same time, the intelligent medication planner registers when and how much was removed from the box and enters the data in an electronic patient file, for instance.

Another service analyzes local weather data, notifies patients of any risks that might be related to their specific illness, and recommends appropriate behavior. Patients suffering from asthma, for instance, can decide if they want to avoid strenuous physical effort or stay indoors when fine particulate matter concentrations are high.

Another think tank presented an initiative known as “ShareMyData4Health” that is aimed at improving the value of health data for patients. Patients can use a platform developed for this purpose to have the data about their illness analyzed in anonymized form to determine whether any research studies for this specific illness are being conducted nationwide and, if so, where. Patients can also submit applications to be accepted as participants in these studies so that they can benefit as quickly as possible from the latest research results.

Blockchain technology can also be used in the pharmaceutical industry, e.g., to protect patients and companies from counterfeit drugs. T-Systems Multimedia Solutions used a prototype to demonstrate how medication data can be saved in a blockchain. If patients want to know whether a medication is genuine, they can use a smartphone app to determine the starting point and the full length of the supply chain. If there are any breaks in the chain, then it is highly likely that the medication is counterfeit.

The Connected Health Initiative also focuses on patients. The concept here is to build a bridge connecting the health information from physicians, hospitals, company health care data, and patient's own fitness data obtained from wearables and fitness apps, information that was previously scattered among these various sources. If patients make this information available when visiting a physician, for instance, the result would be a better overall picture of the health data. Unnecessary multiple examinations could be avoided. Access to current fitness data might even make it possible to determine the risk of a heart attack.

“Life Science meets Digital” is an initiative of the management consultancy Detecon. Its self-perception is that of a network crossing over the boundaries between companies and industries, bringing together experts from the pharmaceutical industry, health care, and digitalization companies with the aim of developing fundamental principles for cooperative projects. Participants in this year’s conference met at Detecon headquarters in Cologne.

Caption: Dr. Andreas Amann opens the conference of the network initiative “Life Science meets Digital” attended by more than 75 health care and digital experts

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