Data protection

Freedom of information: The extroverted sibling of defensive data protection

Data already circulating in the healthcare system should be used by research and patient information professionals in a more comprehensive and resolute manner; this is the stance taken by the Hamburg-based healthcare expert Prof. Jonas Schreyögg in his guest article on our blog. In a report commissioned by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the extent to which this is legally permissible – and perhaps even necessary – is taken up by two Regensburg-based law scholars, Thorsten Kingreen and Jürgen Kühling. In their summary, the two authors propose the following course of action: We should begin by ensuring “data transparency” (as stipulated by § 303a-e in Germany’s Social Security Code or SGB V), then facilitate the use of existing comprehensive inpatient data (by ordinance or directive) at the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI), and then extend (by law) the data volume to include outpatient structural and billing data. This article summarizes the main findings of their expert assessment.


What does the “digital patient” expect from his or her physician? An appraisal of the patient’s role in digital transformation

What does the “digital patient” expect from his or her physician? How can physicians respond to these expectations? Do people suffering illness really want to to determine their course of action with the help of digital media or is the oft-cited concept of “patient sovereignty” merely an abstraction that has emerged from the discourse on digitalization? The editorial staff at, a magazine for office-based physicians in Germany, has taken our project name to heart and asked us what we think about the role of the patient in digital transformation. Below, we offer the full transcript of the interview. Our key takeaway:  Patients want to be treated well and have a say in their treatment. If there is a technology available that can help in this sense, they expect their physician to use it. And those who readily use digital forms of communication in other parts of their life do not want to have to go in person to the doctor’s office for everything.

E-Mental-Health und Algorithmen: Dr. Adrian Aguilera im Interview

Digital applications in Psychotherapy: Finding an efficient Blend between the Technology and the Human – An Interview with Dr. Adrian Aguilera

To better involve patients in their therapy, researchers at the Berkeley School of Social Welfare of the University of California have developed an algorithm-based text messaging service. The service is designed to help improving the treatment of depression in members of ethnic minorities and social strata with a lower income. This way, patients are supported with their homework, regular attendance of therapy sessions and medication intake. We have asked Adrian Aguilera, head of the program, about his experiences with using digital support for psychotherapy.

Digital Health Roadmap

Digitization that creates patient benefits: The Digital Health Roadmap delivers concrete recommendations for action and thought-provoking ideas

What will it take for digitization to create benefits for patients? Which conditions require adaptation, which “cultural” barriers must be overcome? The “Digital Health Roadmap” offers stakeholders in the health system thought-provoking input and concrete recommendations of action. Each recommendation has its roots in either the “30 under 40” expert network or findings resulting from our Digital Patient project.

Debate series “Big Data in Healthcare”
Medical Training
Medizin im digitalen Zeitalter

Medicine in the Digital Age – What kinds of skills do physicians need?

The degree to which digital services and technologies can successfully make their way into the realm of healthcare depends not least on the digital proficiency of users themselves. This is yet another issue “The Digital Patient” project has chosen to explore. For example, after examining the results of our study on video consultations, we concluded that new communication techniques should be integrated into the medical training and continuing education of physicians. Starting next week, the University Medical Center Mainz will be the first faculty in Germany to introduce a special curriculum for medical students. We asked the head of the project, PD Dr. Sebastian Kuhn, to describe the scope and goals of this special curriculum.

Electronic Health Records
Elektronische Patientenakten als Basis für (digitales) Behandlungsmanagement

Electronic health records: A central basis for (digital) treatment management

The discussion on the introduction of electronic health records (EHRs) in Germany is in full swing. The Bertelsmann Stiftung aims to add impetus to this debate with an expert report by Professor Peter Haas. Of particular importance here is the conceptual idea of the EHR as a basis for comprehensive treatment management platforms. These EHRs will serve both as a common instrument of service providers and patients, as well as a central instrumental foundation – a hub – for digital process innovation in the healthcare sector. In introducing these records, this mission should be pursued from the very outset


New Study: Weak health literacy creates a digital divide – An interview with Prof. Michael Mackert

One of the questions explored by „The Digital Patient” is how to promote health literacy in the digital age. To deepen our understanding of the various issues associated with this question, we interviewed Professor Michael Mackert from the University of Texas. Together with his colleagues, Mackert recently carried out a study exploring the impact of low health literacy among citizens on how they use digital health information. The findings show that patients with low health literacy are generally less healthy and have more difficulty with digital solutions, particularly when it comes to protecting their privacy and preparing information. This risk of a new digital divide is considerable. The study’s findings were published in 2016 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. In the following interview, the study’s author, Prof. Mackert, discusses the lessons we can draw from these findings.

health apps

Health apps: Who uses them? What do people think of them?

To what extent are health apps relevant today? Who uses them? What potential do they bear and what challenges do they face? At the moment, we are exploring the trends underway in digital health apps at a number of events, for example at this week’s AOK-Tag 2016 (AOK Day 2016). For this event, we took another look at the data contained in the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Gesundheitsmonitor survey and analyzed those findings that provided information on people’s use of health apps. The data – which were collected in summer 2015 – show that 29% of Germans already have a health app installed on their smartphones. More than one in three people indicated they would use this app for the purpose of self-management if they fell ill. One in five people indicated they would welcome the idea of having their own health data – drawn from the information already held at real-life doctors’ offices – on their smartphones. Nevertheless, data security and data protection are also considerable issues on citizens’ minds.

Digital health

Blog launched: Spotlight on digital health

What relevance do healthcare apps have for healthcare? Is big data revolutionizing medicine? Is “Dr. Google” replacing our physicians? Stakeholders throughout the system agree that digitization is changing healthcare. Yet there are very different views and opinions regarding the opportunities and limits of digital transformation. With its “Digital Patient” project, the Bertelsmann Stiftung aims to […]