This is the state of digitalization in the German healthcare sector: A look back at #DHC22
On November 30, 2022, the Bitkom Digital Health Conference (#DHC22) took place at Kosmos Berlin. For the seventh time, the key players in the healthcare sector met to discuss the crucial issues and topics surrounding digital healthcare. A special focus this year was on the topics of digital care, tech trends, social governance, and data spaces & platforms.
"We can move digitally in Germany – that was seen during the pandemic. We have an outstanding startup landscape and together we can succeed in digitizing the healthcare industry," with these words Dr. Bernhard Rohleder, Chief Executive Officer of Bitkom, welcomed the visitors. The #DHC22 focused on all the questions surrounding the opportunities and possibilities of digitization, AI, algorithms and machine learning for tomorrow's healthcare: How can we improve patient care through new digital technologies? What goals and challenges does the German eHealth strategy address? And how can we use digital solutions to make healthcare more sustainable? Experts from science, business and politics addressed technology trends for the healthcare sector on three stages and provided insights into digital applications for doctors' practices, clinics, hospitals and care.
"For a long time, the prevailing attitude of the medical profession toward digitization was characterized by skepticism, distance, and in some cases even rejection – certainly also with serious concerns about maintaining the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship. In recent years, however, this skepticism has increasingly given way to advocacy", said Klaus Reinhardt, president of the German Medical Association, about the state of digitalization in the German healthcare system.
Pfizer at the #DHC22
As a premium partner of the event, Pfizer was represented in large numbers on site: Dr. Sabine Gilliam, Country President at Pfizer Germany, held her keynote as one of the highlight speakers at #DHC22 directly after Prof. Dr. Karl Lauterbach and Dr. Peter Schardt, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens Healthineers. The Pfizer Healthcare Hub informed with a booth about how startups can establish their digital developments on the market in cooperation with Pfizer. Maja Hoock, Innovation Lead of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin, together with Patrick Schraps, Project Manager at AOK plus, formed the jury for the startup pitches.
Digital Solutions in Global Pandemics: Keynote by Dr. Sabine Gilliam
Dr. Sabine Gilliam spoke about the pivotal role digital solutions played in the rapid development of a vaccine and drug against Corona. She cited the following three key learnings:
- With supercomputing and AI, Pfizer was able to reduce the overall time of complex calculations by as much as 90%
- Collaborations: The rapid development of the Corona vaccine and antiviral drug was only possible because government agencies, companies and scientific institutions pulled together globally
- Knowledge sharing and data exchange only work if data can flow freely.
Her conclusion: data availability must be increased and private research must also be given equal access to data. Fast and unhindered data exchange and, above all, global cooperation are essential for pandemic control and prevention: data flows must be thought of globally. She concluded by calling for a dialogue on the use of data that is free of ideology, driven by pragmatism and the added value for patients.
Startups at #DHC22
"Developing digital state-of-the-art products has to happen so fast that new technologies are not already current when they are launched. That's why collaborations with agile startups are so important for large companies. The six startups that presented themselves and their developments at DHC22 aim to help patient:ing with cancer, endometriosis and long covid with AI-based training, digital companions and databases. It's great to witness this spirit of innovation," said Maja Hoock about the six young companies on stage at #DHC22. The following startups were in attendance:
Digital technologies are the future of healthcare
Whether telemedicine, health apps or operating robots: medical care must continue to become more digital – not only to catch up with other countries in the digitalization of healthcare, but above all to be able to guarantee patients high-quality, up-to-date medical care in the future. Dr. Sabine Gilliam summed up the importance of digitization for the healthcare system in the words of Mikael Dolsten, Chief Medical Officer at Pfizer: "Science will win and digital will help us to win faster."
Sustainability in industry: The Pfizer HighCon plant as an example of sustainable pharmaceutical production
What exactly is meant by sustainability in industry? How do manufacturing companies deal with it? How can economic success be reconciled with ecology? And what concrete solutions are there for industrial users? On November 16, company representatives at the BadenCampus gave around 100 participants insights into how sustainability is practiced in their companies, and startups presented their developments for more sustainable production.
The Pfizer high containment plant in Freiburg as a model example for sustainability
The event opened with a presentation by Gunter Bechmann, PhD, Senior Manager Operations, about the High-Con factory in Freiburg. The High-Con factory in Freiburg combines high technology with state-of-the-art energy management and, according to the German Federal Environment Agency, is an example of good practice for sustainable pharmaceutical production: The plant can draw a large part of its energy from sustainable sources. Gunther Bechmann emphasizes how important cooperation with the Pfizer Healthcare Hub and with external Innnovtor:innen is for the Freiburg site: "One of the prerequisites for investment in sustainable production is innovation in the subject area. We are ideally positioned for this at the site with our industry partners and the Pfizer Healthcare Hub."
Other practical presentations on sustainability in industry
- Kristof Schimmele, overall sales manager at Badische Staatsbrauerei Rothaus AG, outlined Rothaus' path to climate positivity
- Patrick R. Egloff, Managing Partner, J.W. Zander GmbH & Co. KG, presented the Energy Monitor, a quick and easy way to reduce energy consumption
- Daniel Hug, managing director, H. Waldmann GmbH & Co. KG, Valentin Kaltenbach, Founder and Managing Director, KALTENBACH.SOLUTIONS GmbH and Anna Tatjana Pflug, Coach, spoke on the topic "With man and machine to sustainability in production"
The event was organized by BadenCampus and its network partners: BANSBACH GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungs- und Steuerberatungsgesellschaft, Wirtschaftskanzlei Friedrich Graf von Westphalen (FGvW) and the Steinbeis Europa Zentrum.
Sustainability as an opportunity
The event, which included mutual exchange and networking, showed that the industry is using very advanced solutions at many points and that digitalization in particular offers great potential for the development of sustainable solutions. Sustainability is now seen as an opportunity, economically successful and sustainable solutions are a competitive advantage for companies, today more than ever.
The Digi Derma Start-up Café: Digital and AI-supported solutions for diagnostics and therapy in dermatology
The Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin wants to make the potential of digital health applications accessible to doctors and patients in the field of dermatology and supported the 3rd Digi Derma Start-up Café. On 5 November, the startup scene met with the Professional Association of German Dermatologists (BVDD) on the EUREF campus in Berlin. Startups, pharmaceutical companies, incubators, accelerators, dermatologists and interested parties from politics, business and self-administration exchanged views on teledermatological, digital and AI-supported solutions for skin diseases.
Visitors got to know new digital applications from 14 startups and were able to discuss market entry opportunities in Germany. The jury selected LENICURA GmbH by Dr. Katharina Hennig as the winner of the poster presentation. "It is very important for digitalization in the pharmaceutical sector to go where innovation happens. In this way, we come into contact with startups that are our cooperation partners of tomorrow," says Maja Hoock, Lead of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub. Marco Kremp, Senior Brand Manager Dermatology and Lisa Gebauer, Digital Marketing Trainee, supervised the booth of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub. Sales Director Ines Hübner and Dr. Anja Plenske from the I&I Medical Team were also on site.
Panel discussion: Digitalization in theory & practice
In the panel discussion, Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Sebastian Kuhn, Head of the Institute of Digital Medicine, Prof. Dr. iur. Fruzsina Molnár-Gábor, Heidelberg University / Faculty of Law and Dr. med. Ralph von Kiedrowski, President of the BVDD discussed the current state of digitalization in Germany, named problem areas such as the telematics infrastructure and took a look into the future of dermatology. The discussion was moderated by Jessica Hanneken, VP Investment and Strategy Management, BFS Health Finance GmbH.
The conclusion: Innovation must create clear added value for doctors and patients and should be developed together with practitioners from practice.
"In the course of digitalization, more and more possibilities are being developed to communicate faster and more effectively between doctor and patient, to make diagnoses or to accompany therapies. Making these new digital solutions accessible to as many patients as possible is an important task in which the Pfizer Healthcare Hub is happy to support," says Anja Plenske.
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Better patient care through DTx: Maja Hoock is the new Innovation Lead of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin
The Berlin Hub has a new face: since October, Maja Hoock has been leading the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin. There she is responsible for topics related to digital patient care: together with her team and the Pfizer network, she supports young companies through collaborations to bring digital health applications such as wearables and apps to patients. Her goal: demonstrable health benefits through digitally supported patient care.
PR manager, marketing expert and digital journalist with a technology background: Maja Hoock brings an open and experienced view of digitalization. At Ottobock, world market leader for AI-controlled prostheses and exoskeletons, she designed strategies in close collaboration with internal startups as Manager Corporate Communications R&D. As a science journalist, she reported on innovations in MedTech and startups for ZDF and rbb among others. As founder & CEO of an agency and think tank for digital transformation, her focus was on concepts between institutions and technology. Digital transformation is a matter of the heart for her: "The concrete benefit of technology for people becomes particularly clear when it can contribute to a healthier and, in the best case, even longer life – for example, when a wearable warns of heart problems or an app helps people quit smoking. Not to mention huge potential in the diagnostics space."
As Innovation Lead of the Pfizer Healthcare Hub Berlin, she is responsible for bringing digital products to doctors and patients together with startups, spin-offs and tech companies. "I'm excited to shape tomorrow's healthcare in such a central role," says Maja Hoock. Her main topics are health apps and wearables – so for all questions around Digital Therapeutics (DTx), Maja Hoock is the right contact!
Three questions to Maja Hoock:
What is your very personal goal as hub chief?
Maja Hoock: Germany is taking a pioneering role with regard to digital health applications (DiGAs): DiGAs are reimbursed by health insurers – if they are proven to work. My goal is to help launch helpful apps and wearables and to make greater use of digital opportunities in the health sector. In this way, we can generate valuable insights and data as a "pilot hub" that will later benefit the other countries in similar models.
What is your drive in the area of digital patient solutions?
Maja Hoock: Over the last few years, I've seen the wonderful opportunities that digital solutions offer to help patients live healthier, more active lives. For example, there are devices that help people with heart problems prevent strokes, or database solutions to diagnose rare diseases faster. Digital technology can save lives, prolong them or make them more livable. Many young companies have innovative ideas that can actually help people – but not the means to position themselves successfully on the market. The Pfizer Healthcare Hub fills this gap.
What are the big topics you want to work on with your team?
Get in touch with Maja Hoock
Maja Hoock: We want to actively shape the cross-divisional digital transformation at Pfizer and promote applications "around the pill" in close exchange with the specialist departments. In this way, we support patients with new technologies and open up new business areas at the same time. We want to be the first point of contact for all business units in their search for digital support for their medicines. At the same time, we want to be the first point of contact for healthcare startups looking for a strong cooperation partner.