More than a century ago, Willem Einthoven transmitted simple heartbeats remotely through a telegraph wire, laying the foundation for the development of a pioneering new discipline: telemedicine.
Sensors are not just getting smaller and smaller, they now come with intelligent and reliable analytical and transmission algorithms – paving the way for the fully automated monitoring of a raft of biosignals such as heart rates, cardiac arrhythmia, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and body temperature, all in real time. This is making it much easier for physicians to provide their patients with extensive care, in ways that make sense in clinical terms. Used systematically, these technologies reduce the length of hospital stays and the overall mortality rates of patients with chronic cardiovascular disease by up to one third. From an economic standpoint, this reduces inpatient stays and treatment costs.
To allow a large number of patients to benefit from these positive effects in the future, independent of the regional care situation, it will be necessary to introduce powerful data management systems, complete with transmission technology, analytical methods, clear rules defining responsibility for processes, multi-dimensional data exchange, and world-class data protection measures. It will also be important to expand the payment system for digital medical logistics processes, based on financial models.
Organized professionally, telemonitoring/telemedicine has every potential to develop into a sustainable care concept for the future. But to work, it will require the political will when it comes to healthcare and discussion that is open to different outcomes when it comes to technologies, responsibilities, opportunities, but also risks – not to mention suitable technological, legal, and structural conditions.
We strongly believe that telemonitoring, big data, and artificial intelligence can be an enrichment to medical thinking and action. The foundation for this will be provided by data enabling. In this edition of the Steinbeis TRANSFER magazine, a variety of Steinbeis experts report on their experiences and personal perspectives on the topic of Operation 4.0 – Data-Enabling in Healthcare.
We wish you a fascinating read!
Judith Piorkowski & Bettina Kirstein