The Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI jointly conducted a three-stage participatory foresight process with external experts, consisting of environment analysis, visioning and scenario development, with the aim of identifying the key trends in the field of digital health and deriving the resulting market and research requirements.

First, 21 trend clusters were prioritised in an environment analysis. These were then analysed in an initial interdisciplinary workshop with external experts from the broad spectrum of healthcare, such as GPs, representatives of health insurance companies, the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry, the care sector and healthcare research. Three possible future scenarios were then designed on this basis. These served as the basis for a second internal workshop to identify topics with a high need for research and action in healthcare. These include (in alphabetical order):

  • Automation of data collection and/or administrative tasks
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data literacy in medicine
  • Data sovereignty for users
  • Digital twins of patients
  • Health data ecosystems with high functionality
  • Interoperability
  • Clinical decision support systems to relieve the burden on healthcare professionals
  • Reliable artificial intelligence

The resulting white paper is intended to promote social discourse on the digitalisation of the German healthcare system by showing what scope for action digitalisation is already opening up today and what future development scenarios are conceivable. The aim is to sensitise stakeholders in the healthcare sector to the potential opportunities and risks of digitalisation.

The importance of this topic is also highlighted by the recently published digitalisation strategy of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), which identifies the confident use of new technologies and the creation of digital skills as essential prerequisites for the successful digitalisation of the German healthcare system.