The digitalization and innovative care structures bring with them great opportunities for better healthcare in Germany. With the proposal for the new Digital Care Act (Digitale-Versorgung-Gesetz – DVG), there is a statutory set of measures on the table that aim to substitute conventional processes in healthcare with faster, digital alternatives. But what does the introduction mean for doctors, health insurance companies, manufacturers, and patients? What kinds of opportunities and risks does the DVG offer? And how does it improve the access to digital solutions in healthcare?
These questions were dealt with at yesterday’s event “”DVG – Great Success or Just the First Step?”, to which B. Braun invited representatives from politics, the startup scene, and the healthcare industry. The discussion took place at Betahaus in Berlin with, among others, Dr. Philipp Kircher, Associate Project Director Medical Law, Data Protection, Information Security at the Health Innovation Hub of the Federal Ministry of Health, Farina Schurzfeld, Co-Founder of the therapy app Selfapy, Economist Prof. Dr. Volker Amelung, Nico Schwartze, Head of the Digital Innovation Management department at AOK Northeast, as well as Thom Rasche, Partner at EARLYBIRD Venture Capital.
After the greeting by Alexander Katzung, Vice President Acceleration & Innovation and Johannes Heuckeroth, Manager Government Affairs at B. Braun, Dr. Philipp Kircher gave a legal classification and in-depth presentation on the DVG and explained that the set of measures represents a path to standard care for a new product class, the digital healthcare applications, – an “app on prescription”, so to speak. The subsequent panel discussion included an assessment of the bill by discussion participants with a focus on evidence, pricing, economic benefits, and competition.
“The DVG is a step in the right direction and brings about movement in the market,” underlined Thom Rasche at the beginning. In the long term, he expects better and more efficient care that is designed to be more social, however, with no cost savings, according to Rasche. The DVG is worded too narrowly, yet represent a positive notion from the Federal Ministry of Health to not want to create the perfect law but to set things in motion, Prof. Amelung agreed. Within the scope of the discussion about digital healthcare applications, startups first and foremost need to think about how they will get the information to the doctors and convince them, as competition will mostly take place in doctor’s practices, warned Amelung.
Farina Schurzfeld reported on her experiences as a founder and about the scientific studies that are fundamental for success, and which the startup already commissioned following the first round of financing. She sees the enlivened competition resulting from the DVG and an opening of the market as positive, similar to the health insurance companies. Calls for tender could be a way to position oneself against the competition, emphasized Nico Schwartze, as a representative from AOK Northeast. He sees the DVG as an investment that will pay off in the medium and long term, as increased transparency and the collection of digital data allows for efficient structures. On the topic of pricing, he made clear that digital healthcare applications are completely new products, and the right mechanisms would still need to be found, as there is no “blueprint”.
Regarding the challenges pertaining to data protection and evidence, at the end of the discussion, Dr. Philipp Kircher postulated that, within the scope of the DVG, it is important for the entire healthcare startup scene to now introduce the safest products possible onto the market and to build trust among the general public. In the public dialog, currently the focus is on the concerns and not the opportunities. According to Kircher, it is the task also of startups to change this. Following the discussion, the startups RenalTracker, participants of the current B. Braun Accelerator Program, and medloop presented their solutions for the healthcare market.
B. Braun Accelerator Program
As part of the B. Braun Accelerator ProgramB. Braun is intensifying its collaboration with startups to improve companies’ and hospitals’ internal processes and technologies. In the past six months, among other events, bootcamps took place at which different use cases, as well as B. Braun-specific technologies and solutions were developed. After a pilot phase, the analysis of the results follow in November, which will then be presented as part of a Demo Day. In spring 2020, the B. B. Braun Accelerator Program will be tendered for the third time.