28 September 2018. “30 university hospitals and medical centres, plus over 30 partner organisations, including research institutes – both independent and university-based – and industry players, have joined the Medical Informatics Initiative. The Germany-wide integration of university hospitals is an important first step for the cross-site exchange of data – to the benefit of medical research and patient care,” explains Sebastian C. Semler, Executive Director of Technology, Methods and Infrastructure for Networked Medical Research (TMF) at the 2nd MII annual general meeting in Berlin. The initiative aims to integrate data from healthcare and research by means of innovative IT solutions. This will give patients new ways of making their data available not only to their doctors, but also to medical researchers. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing over 150 million euros in total to fund the initiative from 2018 to 2021.
The federal government’s High-Tech Strategy (HTS) 2025 was a topic of discussion at the meeting. The aim is for all German university hospitals and medical centres to use research-compatible electronic patient records (EPRs) by 2025. Attendees agreed that the initiative will play a key role in achieving this goal. As Ralf Heyder, Secretary General of the German Association of Academic Medical Centers (VUD), observes: “We need changes to the regulatory framework, and enhanced IT infrastructures in healthcare. The forthcoming German eHealth Act II needs to accomplish this – only then will university hospitals have the necessary basis for developing and implementing research-compatible EPRs.”
To create the required infrastructure to link treatment and research data, the four BMBF-funded MII consortia DIFUTURE, HiGHmed, SMITH and MIRACUM are establishing data integration centres (DICs) at participating sites. As their name suggests, these centres will integrate data from research and patient care in accordance with data protection requirements. Additionally, with the patient’s consent, they will make this information available for medical treatment or research. “Reports by cross-consortia MII working groups have indicated that concrete progress has been made in Germany-wide standardisation and harmonisation. As nearly all university hospitals and medical centres, plus many other actors, are involved in this process, we can expect rapid implementation of these standards,” states Dr Frank Wissing, General Secretary of the German Association of Medical Faculties (MFT).
During the meeting on 27 September, German health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), represented by Susanne Hertzer (Head of TK-Landesvertretung in Berlin/Brandenburg), presented the TK-Safe electronic health record. The initiative and TK are both currently working on developing infrastructure for the digital transformation of the healthcare system. The MII annual general meeting marked the begin of dialogue between the university hospitals and health insurers in the context of electronic patient records.
A coordination office, operated by TMF in cooperation with MFT and VUD in Berlin, is responsible for harmonising these developments at national level.
The aim of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) is to enhance research and patient care through innovative IT solutions. These will enable the sharing and use of data from healthcare and from clinical and biomedical research across multiple entities and sites. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is investing a total of 150 million euros in the initiative through 2021. Within the scope of four consortia – DIFUTURE, HiGHmed, MIRACUM and SMITH – nearly all German university hospitals and medical centres at over 30 locations are cooperating with research institutions, businesses, health insurers and patient representatives. Their mission is to enable the use of research findings to the direct benefit of patients. At the same time, priority is given to robust data protection and security.
The Berlin-based coordination office, operated by TMF (Technology, Methods and Infrastructure for Networked Medical Research) with MFT (German Association of Medical Faculties) and VUD (German Association of Academic Medical Centers), is responsible for managing cooperation within MII at national level.