E-Health - Discovery of Digital Medicine

Laura Bauckmann
November 25, 2020

Talk digitally with the family doctor, receive jaw scans from the cloud, work as a doctor in the home office: With the corona pandemic, the acceptance of e-health is increasing in Germany. Now is the hour of the medical pioneers.

Patients show great openness towards digital health services: Currently, one in three (32 percent) has already arranged a doctor's appointment online - a year ago it was only 26 percent. Prescriptions on smartphones, video conferences with the doctor, apps for diabetes treatment - new forms of medicine are becoming more and more common in the pandemic. We are also talking about business worth billions.

Even among the over-65s, almost 50 per cent are prepared to install health apps on their smartphones. The Federal Government's Corona app has shown the way, with around 21 million downloads of the programme already made.

But also the US internet giants are among the actors. Google and Apple have not only cooperated in the introduction of the Corona App, but are also working on "tracing" functions that can send warnings based on user data without the need for an app. The German Corona warning app itself was developed by the Dax companies SAP and Telekom.

Facebook, which has developed an application for making appointments with doctors and preventive medical care, and Amazon, which is working on a digital health platform, have also jumped on the e-health train. Two years ago Amazon had already taken over the online pharmacy PillPack in the USA.

Thus, the electronic patient file (ePa) will be available at the beginning of next year. Electronic prescriptions will also be introduced in Germany in 2021, which can be sent via smartphone and redeemed in pharmacies. By 2022, e-prescriptions will be mandatory. It is already possible to use an "app on prescription", which allows users to make simple self-diagnoses. The number of video consultation hours is growing explosively. Already from February to March 2020, the Kry platform, which specialises in this field, recorded an increase of 350 percent.

Digitisation in the health care system is a sensible investment and even creates locational advantages, as the example of Finland shows. An electronic patient file has been available there since 2010, containing various data such as x-rays, examination results or prescriptions. Everything can be viewed by doctors and patients. Researchers and developers are also allowed to use the data - anonymously. Thanks to the strong digitisation during the Corona crisis, Finland was able to switch to online treatments and use artificial intelligence much faster than other countries. Fewer infections and lower costs in coping with the crisis were the result.

There are many possible applications in a digitised medicine and they are being developed and spread at an ever faster pace. The most prominent example of digital networking can be seen in the field of diabetes treatment. Here, patients can use an insulin pump and an app on a smartphone to check their values in real time and even customise the application based on these values. The result is an improvement in the quality of life and even a longer life.

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