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Medical informatics: Strengthening research and advancing health care

Innovative IT solutions improve research opportunities and patient care
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DLR-PT has supported the Federal Ministry of Education and Research-BMBF in developing the funding concept for the Medical Informatics Initiative and is accompanying the implementation of this forward-looking large-scale project. The aim is to enable the exchange and cross-location use of medical data and thus also to advance personalised medicine.

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The digital future of medicine has long since begun. For example, wearable sensors can record the vital data on the heart health of patients with cardiac insufficiency in the home environment and transmit it directly to the hospital – harbingers of critical developments can thus be detected early and those affected can be treated in a targeted manner. And intelligent smartphone apps can help doctors to quickly make the best possible treatment decisions in emergency situations. The central pioneer of such innovations in Germany is the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) of the BMBF.

At DLR-PT, an interdisciplinary team of scientists have has helped to shape this politically highly placed funding concept: Colleagues with expertise in bioinformatics, health services research, clinical trials and structural funding accompanied discussions with stakeholders and conducted review meetings with top-class international experts as well as application consultations. With its technical and administrative expertise, DLR-PT now also supports the BMBF in implementing the funding concept. In addition, our Health Communication team regularly develops or designs articles on the MII for the interested public in close consultation with the Ministry – from current news to explanatory films. We also support the BMBF in the conception and organisation of trade fair stands and MII sessions for presentations for the specialist public – for example at Medica or the Capital Congress.

Data integration centres for better care

The MII brings together numerous players from medical research and healthcare. All of Germany's university hospitals are working together with research institutions and companies in consortia that the BMBF selected for funding in 2017 – also with DLR-PT technical assistance – and is supporting with more than 200 million euros until 2022. Our communications experts and scientific officers helped prepare the announcement of the four BMBF-funded consortia at a press conference held by the Federal Research Minister.

Since 2018, the consortia have been setting up data integration centres (DIC) at university hospitals in close coordination with other stakeholders – health insurance companies, patient representatives and doctors' associations. They guarantee the protection and security of the data and are intended to enable researchers and doctors to access it. In this way, the DICs turn data into a valuable resource that can be used to gain new insights and further improve healthcare.

Interactive map shows concrete examples

The second core element of the MII funding concept are use cases, which are IT solutions based on the use and access of research and care data from different locations. Such use cases are, for example, the IT-based support for personalised cancer medicine or an app that recognises the prognostic factors for acute lung failure and warns medical staff at an early stage. To enable citizens to find out which MII sites are working on which use cases, the Health Communication department at DLR-PT has developed an interactive map in close coordination with the BMBF. The information service, which we maintain editorially, depicts the research landscape of medical informatics in Germany and uses concrete examples to illustrate the added value of the cross-location use of medical data in lay terms.

Digital Hub: Advances in Research and Health Care funding initiative launched

In mid-2021, the Digital Progress Hubs Health began their work. The BMBF is providing around 50 million euros until 2025 for this flagship initiative of its digital strategy. The task of the Hubs is to incorporate the pioneering work of the Medical Informatics Initiative on digitisation in medicine at the university hospitals into many areas of the healthcare system – initially in pilot projects in areas ranging from outpatient care in the family doctor's surgery through inpatient stays in the local hospital to care in rehabilitation and nursing facilities. DLR-PT scientific staff also contributed their expertise to the development of this forward-looking BMBF funding initiative and are now providing technical and administrative support for its implementation. Furthermore, we supported the BMBF in the area of communication to the public, for example in the production of a video with statements by the Federal Research Minister and all project leaders, or with online portraits of the six funded hubs and their goals.


Medical Informatics Initiative – the key data

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Networking data, improving healthcare – this is what the MII and the Digital Progress Hubs Health of the Federal Government stand for. The BMBF is providing around 230 million euros for this purpose from 2018 to 2025.



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Aufbau und Vernetzungsphase (2018-2022)
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The BMBF is funding four consortia (around 180 million euros) that have been setting up data integration centres since 2018. Using concrete use cases, they are to demonstrate the medical added value of the developed IT architectures and software solutions in practice.

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Expansion and extension phase (2023-2026)
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Other partners are to adopt proven solutions so that patients in Germany can benefit from the advances of the MII across the board.

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Digital Progress Hubs Health (2021-2025)
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The six funded hubs (around 50 million euros) are incorporating data from regional care in medical informatics structures and solutions on a pilot basis. They exemplify the benefits of this networking for regional patient care in concrete application cases.

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Contact at DLR Projektträger