Personalized medicine, medical technology, digital health and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing diagnostics and product development. Analyses are becoming faster and more precise, and data volumes can now be networked and used effectively. The goal of improving people's quality of life is within reach, and this will also strengthen Germany’s future viability. However, not every good idea can be turned into a marketable commodity. How can this be changed?
EHRs, i.e. electronic health records (German: Patientenakte, ePA), are hailed as the key to increasing the quality of care. The Appointment Service and Supply Act (TSVG), adopted on 14th March 2019, requires the German statutory health insurance funds to provide policyholders with electronic health records from 1st January 2021 onwards. But what are EHRs and what makes them different from the personal health records (PHRs; German: elektronische Gesundheitsakte, eGA) that various companies have already placed on the market?
Brain-computer interfaces are the latest developments in the neurotechnology field. They are used to record brain activity, which is then decoded with artificial intelligence techniques and converted into control signals for robots or computers. While this brings hope to severely paralysed people, it also implies risks due to the interest of companies like Google and Facebook in this type of data. Both these aspects are being investigated in the BrainLinks-BrainTools cluster of excellence at the University of Freiburg.
Retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are now treatable. However, it is hard to predict individual disease progression. A group of researchers at the University Eye Centre in Freiburg are currently developing a new system which is hoped will allay fears and improve therapy planning. The system uses artificial intelligence to predict therapeutic outcome from image and patient data. Initial results are already available.
A research project in cartilage regeneration, in which the Institute of Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics at Ulm University participates together with partners from eight european countries, was recently financed by the European Commission with 5.5 million Euro. Named RESTORE, the project aims to create 3D matrices incorporating smart nanomaterials to repair knee cartilage lesions thereby reducing or delaying the onset of osteoarthritis, which currently affects 242 million people worldwide.
The founders and partners of DiHeSys have big ambitions: "We have to build a complete ecosystem around the patient," says Dr. Markus Dachtler, managing director of DiHeSys. The company develops products and services for an industry in transition, provides answers to trends such as personalized medicine, 2D- and 3D-printing technologies and platform technologies. The company’s motto: no isolated solutions, but a comprehensive range of services.
Teleradiology is the most advanced telemedicine application in Germany. CHILI GmbH from Dossenheim is one of the companies that has contributed to driving the development of teleradiology forward. The company specialises in PACS and teleradiology systems and helps connect clinics and physicians.
For almost 125 years, undertakers as well as physicians in the fields of anatomy and pathology have used formaldehyde to preserve biological tissue and whole cadavers. Yet, formaldehyde is highly toxic and linked to cancer. A team led by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hirt from the Institute of Clinical Anatomy and Cell Analysis at the University Hospital in Tübingen has developed a formaldehyde-free replacement substance. The researchers are now planning to market this substance.
It used to be believed that premature babies needed as much rest as possible. However, studies have since shown that this is not the case at all. According to these studies, the brains of premature babies need to be stimulated 24 hours a day, ideally close to the mother, to ensure healthy development. The Stuttgart-based start-up BABYBE GmbH has developed a special gel mattress that enables babies to perceive their mother’s heartbeat and voice whilst inside the incubator. The system is already being used in several clinics around the world.
The European Research Council (ERC) awards Starting Grants to support excellent young scientists when they are starting an independent science career. In this year's round of proposals, three scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have been chosen at once for the prestigious award: Ana Banito, Fabian Erdel and Moritz Mall.
There are over 700 treatment guidelines in Germany alone, and each is up to several hundred pages long. Can doctors still stay on top of things? A start-up company from Mannheim called evid is developing a software that can retrieve relevant therapy recommendations for individual patients from the huge pile of paperwork. In March 2018, the founding trio won first place of the eHealthForum Freiburg start-up competition.