The digital revolution of medicine

After years of inertia, the willingsness to digitalize has finally arrived in the healthcare sector. ‘Digital’ has become a synonym for ‘innovative’. Digitalization is omnipresent as a promise of salvation, whether for care, hygiene problems or better therapies. This cannot be described by technical innovations alone. The truth is that healthcare, and therefore medicine, are facing fundamental changes that are driven primarily, but not only, by technological innovations.

Three decisive developments are responsible for this:

  1. Societal demands – Patients want to be treated as active partners in their own recovery process
  2. Technological Achievements – Cloud computing has created a new foundation for the use of digital technologies, enabling complex data to be linked and intelligently evaluated.
  3. Biological insights – Due to the progress in DNA deciphering, the focus is increasingly on the differentiating 0.5% (= 3 million base pairs in each cell) of the genetic code. The differentiating factor makes it clear: the uniqueness of the human organism as well as the associated diseases require individualized therapies.

The interaction of these three drivers holds a huge potential for medicine in the coming years – and the key is digitalization. It is the technological basis for better healthcare for people, higher quality and efficiency in medicine. Without this enormous potential of personalized medicine for better quality of care and people’s desire for transparency, efficiency and convenience, digital technologies would be an end in themselves.

However, the human component is crucial in all of this. Only a ‘human digitalization’ that focuses on the benefits for patients and caregivers will increase the potential.

Keynote of Prof. Dr. Jörg F. Debatin, Chairman of the Health Innovation Hub (hih), Federal Ministry of Health at Care 2025 on November 12 in Hamburg, Germany

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