Digital Health – from the visionary to the practical

On 17 May, the association Praevenire held its Digital Health Workshop for the third time as a participatory event – with over 40 experts and stakeholder representatives. This year, the discussions were almost more engaged than usual, because the joy of finally being able to exchange ideas in person was great.

The workshop began with an intensive discussion of the new blended care concepts, especially around the question of what conditions must be fulfilled for blended care to be implemented and widely accepted. Because it actually turns out that the potential of blended care is much more comprehensive than one would spontaneously assume. The integration of telemedical elements, apps, IoT-based data measurements and the online connection of specialists into conventional medical care offers many improvements for patients. So far, however, only a fraction of these innovations have even been considered. The experts agreed that improved education and training, as well as trust-building quality management, are basic prerequisites for enabling more blended care. However, it also became clear that an overview of the numerous innovation possibilities is missing.

Policy Paper by BFH and Technikum Wien

Subsequently, the expansion of the use of digital patient dossiers was discussed, partly with great emotional engagement of the participants. Currently, there is still a lot of ignorance and misinformation, supplemented by fundamental misunderstandings regarding the distinction between infrastructure services and specific digital services based on them. A joint policy paper by Technikum Wien and Bern University of Applied Sciences, currently available as a draft, provides more clarity here, but will be revised on the basis of the workshop results. Digital data are so central to research and treatment that the rejection or non-use of patient dossiers is simply incomprehensible. This makes it all the more urgent to communicate knowledge and understanding to a broad public. The highlight of the event was the presentations on artificial intelligence and the subsequent discussion. Prof. Joachim Buhmann (ETH Zurich) presented the successes and challenges of basic research, Prof. Richard Greil (Paracelsus Medical Private University) conveyed the necessity of using artificial intelligence in oncology and Dietmar Maierhofer (Philips Austria) explained the technical challenges of implementation. A central question was how quality assurance can be realised where machines process data that is not cognitively manageable for humans and how one. Another central question was what ethical requirements there are and how to deal with the virulent mistrust of our society.

What really hinders Digital Health

Finally, the myths that hinder the implementation of digital health were analysed – again with the committed participation of all those present – and suggestions were developed together on how to shape education so that fears can be reduced. The experts emphasised that the myths have a true core and that the way of communication has a significant influence on shaping the future. Digital health is not only a question of medicine and technology, digital health is also a question of communication.


About the Praevenire Workshop

The workshop was conceived by the BFH Centre Digital Society and took place in a hybrid format. The participants met offline at Stift Seitenstetten in Lower Austria, but many participants from Switzerland were connected online. What was new this time was that four BFH Master’s students were given the opportunity to participate, so that the community engagement of BFH researchers also benefits education. The results will therefore not only flow into the next version of the Praevenire White Paper Health 2030, but also into the work of students.

AUTOR/AUTORIN: Reinhard Riedl

Reinhard Riedl heads the BFH Centre Digital Society and edits the online magazine SocietyByte. He was president of the Swiss Informatics Society and the International Society for New Music Bern IGNM.

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