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Siemens Healthineers and IBM cooperate to drive the digitalization of Germany´s healthcare system

EIT Health Core Partner Siemens Healthineers and IBM introduce “teamplay digital health platform connect” that will advance the networking of the German healthcare system and expand the infrastructure for the provision of digital services.

The new, open digital platform “teamplay digital health platform connect” is the outcome of the rich experience and expertise between Siemens Healthineers and IBM and was presented on 8 December 2020 within the framework of a shared press conference. The technology is already successfully used by Siemens Healthineers in Switzerland (EPD -electronic patient record) and Austria (ELGA-electronic health record) and the company is now taking the gained experience to Germany.

From 2021 everyone with a German statutory health insurance must be able to have a digital patient record containing important documents like doctor’s letters, medication plans, emergency data, and proof of vaccinations. But until now there hasn’t been a platform of this kind based on international standards that networks the various players in the healthcare system.“This platform is the enabler for the digital transformation of the healthcare industry and lays the foundation for networking the players,” says Dr. Christian Kaiser, Head of Digital Services Central Western Europe, Siemens Healthineers. “For example, we can get the full benefit from existing and future digital patient records if the patient information is complete, up to date, and available to all relevant and appropriately authorized parties.”

Data security and privacy are top-priority

Teamplay digital health platform connect uses international standards like IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) to simplify the secure sharing of patient data between service providers. “The teamplay digital health platform connect reflects IBM’s strategy of using our technologies to make secure industry platforms possible. […] Patient security and privacy are our top priority. Our services at the Frankfurt data center, which have been internationally certified on numerous occasions (ISO 27001), ensure that only authorized persons have access to this information.” observes Christian Noll, General Manager, IBM Global Business Services (GBS) for the German-speaking countries.

Siemens Healthineers and IBM are splitting the operation of the platform between two German-based data centers using recognized security standards. Splitting the data between two centers means that only part of the data would be compromised in the unlikely event of a hacker attack, thus the data would be of no value to the hacker without the matching “second half.”

Siemens Healthineers maintains the patient register, while IBM holds the document index. On one hand, the patient register manages patient identification data like name or contact details. The basis for registration is always the consent of the person concerned. The principal task of the patient register is to bring together the various data elements associated with an individual from among all the participants and combine them to generate an identity. On the other hand, the documentation index manages administrative details related to the documents that participants contribute to the platform. Again, new documents can only be prepared with a valid declaration of consent from the individual. In this case, the documents or data aren’t stored centrally, but retained by the participant contributing the information: the hospital, for example. Therefore, no additional digital record solution is created.

The solution is also designed for third-party products and services. In the future, the platform will be available for third parties to add new, innovative apps and digital solutions and make them available to the healthcare industry.

Digitalization is right at the top of the agenda for us at Charité,” says Professor Heyo K. Kroemer, CEO of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. “Data-sharing plays a critical role at the regional and also national levels when it comes to research, for example. We’ve used or tested various platform technologies for this purpose, including the digital platform from Siemens Healthineers. For the digital transformation in the healthcare sector to succeed, such offers are needed, especially if they fit into the context of the Federal Government’s digitalization efforts.”