Panel discussion at the GWK

September 2019 – “Patient sick and yet autonomous? How health companies will have to adjust to more autonomous patients” was the title of a well-attended panel discussion at the 15th Gesundheitswirtschaftskongress (GWK – Health Business Congress) in Hamburg.

The Hamburg Commercial Bank issued the invitation. The panel participants took 90 minutes under the moderation of Thomas Miller, Executive Director at the Hamburg Commercial Bank, for a lively discussion of the triumph of digitization in the health sector and the consequences from this for market participants such as physicians, hospitals and health insurance companies. All panel participants agreed that patients are becoming more and more autonomous. This is helped by data sovereignty over increasingly relevant health data and increasingly powerful digital tools. Accordingly, the players in the health care system are called upon to act: It is the autonomous patients in particular who "vote with their feet", i.e. go where their needs are taken seriously.

At this point we would like to present the core messages of the discussion participants:

Dr. Barbara Böttcher, Vice President and Partner for Healthcare/Life Sciences in the DACH region of IBM Deutschland GmbH with its headquarters in Ehningen, Baden-Württemberg:

“Today, doctors spend 30 percent of their time on administrative tasks and nursing staff up to 70 percent.”

“This burden is to be removed above all from physicians – to enable them to concentrate on the important personal dialogue with patients. Further advances in the digitization of work can provide a great deal of relief here.”

“Due to advancing digitization, completely new job profiles are emerging. The IT-nurse is a vision, but absolutely realistic.”

“Germany must take care that it doesn't miss the boat. Actual digitization of the health sector is taking place in other countries, above all in the US.”

Markus Kamrad, Head of BKK VBU Corporate Communications in Berlin

“Patients are equipping themselves digitally, hospitals are doing the same, health insurance companies likewise. Only individual registered physicians in private practice are not yet currently keeping up with the pace of digitization. They should not be allowed to fall behind. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians should be made obligated to do so”

“Particularly when it comes to prevention, there's lots of upside. Digital aids such as wearables can contribute a great deal that's positive here.”

Sandro von Korff, Head of Health Business at Hamburg Commercial Bank

“There's still a great deal of potential for more efficiency in the health business. Particularly in the administrative area, for instance in hospitals and clinics, it's all about shedding ballast.”

“The industry has experienced disruptive change, particularly over the last two years.”

“First and foremost, patient autonomy means the following: each person has to be treated individually, in the way in which they desire, and from the medical perspective in the best way for them.”

“Good data and a competent patient manner strengthen trust in medicine and the concrete relationship to my doctor.”

Friedrich Lämmel, co-founder and general manager of Thryve | mHealth Pioneers GmbH in Berlin

“What's new and fascinating about wearables and apps, for instance, is: As the patient, I collect the data myself. I even have information ahead of my doctor.”

“Physicians still have the prerogative of interpretation over data, due to their qualified training. And yet more and more applications that automatically assess the data collected, calculate illness probabilities and immediately recommend the appropriate medication are coming on the market.”

Dr. Alfred Lohninger, founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Autonom Health Gesundheitsbildungs GmbH in Vienna:

“We need health management instead of disease management.”

“Man and machine are always better than any machine on its own.”

“Retrieving and comparing data is always about recognizing patterns. The physician who today is feeling your pulse is also working according to patterns. With digitization, procedures for pattern recognition are simply becoming much more successful and less dependent on coincidence. More data provides more orientation.”

Prof. Dr. Jens Scholz, MBA, Chairman of the Board of Directors and board member for health care of the University Clinic Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel and Lübeck

“Patients have changed. This means that we too have to change.”

“We have to support patients and make them self-aware in such a way that they ask the right questions and meet their doctors at eye level.”

“We have to get away from two-minute medicine. Otherwise, patients vote with their feet and go where physicians make time for them.”

“Medicine is and will always be more than just the analysis of data.”

“We will experience a separation: Minor illnesses such as colds will soon be treatable with chatbots. Physicians will no longer be needed for this, let alone a trip in the ambulance on the weekend. This will open up more leeway for physicians to concern themselves more intensively with real problem cases.”

“Digitization is leading to everyone having a part in the global advance of medicine. The borders as well as the sector borders in the German market will fall away.”

“Medicine is getting better and better when it comes to collecting and assessing data with intelligence. We have not yet reached the limits of knowledge as of 2019. There are still so many medical questions for which we have no answers today.”