Improvements in research and patient care through innovative IT solutions -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Improvements in research and patient care through innovative IT solutions

Photo: Prof. Johanna Wanka

Prof. Johanna Wanka; © Bundesregierung/Steffen Kugler

Medical informatics has become an integral part of healthcare management. This is why a new support concept is now meant to strengthen this research field in Germany and effectively improve patient care. Professor Johanna Wanka, German Minister of Education and Research, will introduce this support concept today in more detail during the MEDICA HEALTH IT FORUM.

Prior to her keynote address, spoke with the minister about the need for this support concept.

Professor Wanka, how important is medical informatics today?

Prof. Johanna Wanka: Medical informatics is increasingly important in medicine and, consequently, the trigger for innovations!

Large-scale digitized data sets have long been an essential part of medicine. Medical research and patient care collect volumes of health-relevant data on a daily basis: just think about the data collected through daily clinical diagnostics in hospitals and medical practices or in clinical trials alone. Valuable information is also collected when therapies are prescribed and their successes are being measured. Basic biomedical research likewise generates large data sets. So far, this big data treasure trove that could significantly improve the healthcare of every individual is utilized inadequately. After all, the electronic information is available in a variety of data formats and in different locations. This is where medical informatics comes into play: it provides the opportunity to consolidate this multitude of data, analyze it and develop innovative solutions to ensure better patient care.

What is the new medical informatics support concept about and what goals are you pursuing with it?

Wanka: Our primary goal is to utilize medically relevant data to improve the wellbeing of all patients. When this data is systematically analyzed, it can result in more accurate diagnostics and improved therapies. The goal of our support concept is to both advance research and improve patient care – namely through innovative IT solutions. These IT solutions are meant to facilitate the exchange and use of data from patient care and clinical and biomedical research across the boundaries of institutions and locations. An essential prerequisite for this is an adherence to the very stringent data protection standards and general regulations in Germany. From the start, we set our sights on applications and the specific benefit for the patient in developing IT solutions. We will also support young academics and talents.

First the emphasis is on university hospitals since they form the closest connection between patient care and clinical research. Other partners such as research institutes, universities, companies, private clinics or other healthcare institutions can and should also take an active part in this. The innovation potential of new technology developments is equally intended to be increased with startups and small and medium-sized companies.


Prof. Wanka on the Health IT-Forum at MEDICA 2015; © beta-web

You are going to present this new initiative in more detail in your keynote address at the HEALTH IT FORUM. Which relevance does the MEDICA trade fair have in this setting?

Wanka: One of the major focal points of MEDICA 2015 in terms of contents is the digitization of medicine. This is why MEDICA 2015 is the best venue to introduce the medical informatics support concept. We not only want to address science and university hospitals with this support concept but, in fact, want to reach all occupational groups that focus on patient care and collect, process or use health-relevant data. Small and medium-sized and large IT companies play an important role in this: they are the ones that develop applications suitable for everyday use from data based on their expertise. Last but not least, we also want to inform and involve citizens who are interested in medical innovations. I feel confident that we will reach all of these audiences at the MEDICA trade fair.


Please note

Medical informatics support concept
Prof. Johanna Wanka, German Minister of Education and Research
Hall 15, Stand 15C46 - 15E60, Red Stage,
November 16, 3 PM

Photo: Nadine Lormis

© B. Frommann

The interview was conducted by Nadine Lormis and translated by Elena O'Meara.