Chief Data Scientist wanted: Digital health chaos is a top priority

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been clear that Germany's healthcare system is lagging behind digitally.

Chief Data Scientist wanted: Digital health chaos is a top priority

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been clear that Germany's healthcare system is lagging behind digitally. In order to analyze the corona situation in real time, the Federal Republic often has to use foreign data. That should change.

A chief data scientist will soon digitize the German healthcare system. The item is financed from the budget of the Chancellery - the matter is thus a top priority. However, the person should sit in the Federal Ministry of Health. Although the call for tenders is not yet public, it is already clear which goals the personnel should work towards, as SPD member of the Bundestag Matthias Mieves explains to ntv: "The first goal is that we have better treatment, better therapy, better prevention for patients," says Mieves. The MEP is a member of both the Digital Committee and the Health Committee.

Another goal is to relieve the burden on people working in the healthcare sector by recording data only once in digital form and not - as is currently the case - multiple times in analogue or digital form. In medical emergencies, treating doctors and nursing staff should be able to view health data digitally.

This data is then to be passed on to research in an anonymous form. This allows one to deduce, for example, "how many people in Germany have been vaccinated, how many have been ill with Corona for how long or how many have breast cancer syndromes," Mieves continues. In the future, the chief data scientist should develop a strategy with which these goals can be achieved and implement them in concrete projects. Practices, hospitals and care facilities are to be included.

Whoever is to fill the post in the end, Matthias Mieves emphasizes that data protection is particularly important in this area of ​​responsibility so that the information cannot be misused. Personal control is also important in this context. "Everyone will have control over their own data. I can always say that I don't want my data to be saved," said the member of the Bundestag. "On the other hand, we have to make sure that we make something positive out of data. That we unearth this treasure that is hidden there."

The recently published evaluation report on the effect of corona measures shows how difficult it is in Germany to analyze health data in a meaningful way. Experts criticized that the data situation here was too bad. The report is therefore only of limited significance.

Chief data scientists or similar positions are already envisaged in the federal government's data strategy, which was published a year and a half ago. It says that such posts should be created in every federal ministry. But although there has been repeated criticism of the lack of digitization of health data in Germany since the beginning of the corona pandemic, this position for the Federal Ministry of Health has not yet been advertised or filled. After isolated media reports in the past month that indicated that the position should be created, the search for a suitable person for the Federal Ministry of Health is now gaining momentum.

The status of electronic patient records also shows how sluggish the digitization of health information has been so far. Although it has been possible to use this since the beginning of last year, many medical facilities have long lacked devices to be able to read and record them.

In addition, according to the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, the electronic patient file is only compatible with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if patients can determine which information can be viewed by which person. This has been theoretically possible since the beginning of the year. However, only for people using front-end devices such as smartphones or tablets. The Chief Data Scientist in the Federal Ministry of Health will have to face all these problems.

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