Speed dating with a difference – startups and health insurance companies are working on new approaches to digital healthcare

EIT Health Germany, EIT Digital and 5-HT Digital Hub for Chemistry & Health hosted a special meeting in Heidelberg on 22 October: The three initiatives brought together healthcare startups with well-known representatives of statutory health insurances to the “Insuring Digital Health” event to develop patient-near solutions for the digital healthcare of tomorrow.

While digital transformation has meanwhile found its way into physicians’ offices and hospitals, startups are still faced with the task of bringing their own digital innovations into line with the needs of patients and, above all, with the requirements of the health care system – in particular reimbursement schemes. On the one hand, there are processes in the field of diagnostics and therapeutics that can gain in efficiency through new products and thus offer savings potential for the solidarity system. At the same time, there is the challenge of developing products that help patients manage their data and disease, while providing healthcare professionals with direct benefits in terms of quality assurance and efficiency.











For every exciting project with a pioneering character, there is always the question of how patients, as the most important protagonists, can benefit and where the holistic benefits for the healthcare system are. Without the factors ‘usability’ and ‘affordability’ any market entry is absolutely not realistic. This event format was developed with the aim of enabling the invited startups to have a direct exchange with health insurance companies such as the AOK or Techniker Krankenkasse. We intend to promote the development of targeted product innovations that will meet the needs of all players involved.”- Michael Lüttgen, Liaison Manager at EIT Health Gemany

The event was kicked off at noon with a presentation by Nicklas Linz, CEO of ki elements, a spin-off of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), who gave a lecture on the early detection and prevention of cardiovascular, affective and dementia diseases through artificial intelligence.











The representatives of eight health insurance funds based in the Baden-Württemberg region were present, among these the AOK Baden-Württemberg, the Barmer, the BIG direkt gesund, the IKK Südwest, the KNAPPSCHAFT, the mhplus health insurance Company, the pronova BKK and the Techniker health insurance.

“The patient of tomorrow, who is today 30 or 40 years old, will have a different expectation in terms of communication and care towards health insurance companies than it is the case today and we must be fair at an early stage. That’s why events of this kind are extremely important to us.”- Volker Latz, Head of Health, pronova BKK

After the eight Startups that had been previously selected by the organizers had the opportunity to present their innovative products and services to the health insurance companies in short 5-minute pitches, the main part of the event began – the Speed Dating sessions. The participants from both sides had 15 minutes to identify potentials for possible cooperation and to agree on concrete next steps.

“It is obvious that the new digital health care law, the eHealth initiative of the Federal Government, but also the new electronic patient file, which has to be available to all health insurances in Germany by 2021, has a certain pressure on all health insurances regarding digitization. Our policyholders also want these new digital products and services. We are therefore very interested in such events and are actively seeking innovative digital products and cooperation with startups. However, it is important in this context that startups deal with the requirements of health insurance companies early and prepare well. The issue of certification is just one aspect that plays a crucial role in the cooperation of startups with health insurances.”- Christian Goedel, Startup Consultant, BARMER













“My experience as a direct contact for startups at the Techniker Krankenkasse shows me again and again how important it is for startups, especially from the MedTech sector, to talk to health insurance funds and other important players in the health care system at an early stage of development. They should get a qualified assessment and feedback as early as possible on whether the own product or service not only fits into the reality of reimbursement schemes, but also how it might be made suitable. In this respect, I see myself today at this event in the role of the listener and consultant, who gives the startups immediate feedback and advice on this point.”- Cristina Montesinos-Handtrack, Consultant for Outpatient Care, Techniker Krankenkasse

At the end of the speed dating session, both sides were pretty exhausted, but at the same time all had very fruitful and valuable conversations, which in some cases will even lead to further exchanges and negotiations.

“Events of this kind are very important for all health insurances. I am especially pleased that the event takes place today in a rather small setting, which allows both the participating health insurance funds and the startups in one-on-one talks to discover concrete synergies and to agree on further steps. I can say for the KNAPPSCHAFT that I detected definitely two to three very interesting approaches today. I will now be approaching my colleagues internally, presenting the projects and then getting directly in touch with the corresponding startups. “- Daniela Glahn, Digital Project Manager, KNAPPSCHAFT

At the end of this kickoff ‘Insuring Digital Health’, the organizers were convinced to have found a sustainable format that would inspire health insurance companies as well as healthcare Startups also in the future, assist them in finding real cooperation approaches and thus make a valuable contribution to the successful introduction of innovative health solutions.