Sven Löffler
17. September 2014 0

50 percent … Big data makes people healthy & happy

According to a recent survey of the Federal Association for Information Technology,
Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM), 50 percent of all Germans agree that efforts to increase security should make use of biometric data. One out of every two German citizens who are at least 14 years old like the idea of protecting cashless payments biometrically with fingerprint or iris-recognition systems. What consequences does this have for business and the companies active in the market for biometrics-based systems?

Without doubt, the framework for companies that produce biometrics-based systems has improved. And the improvements are directly related to the German Federal Government’s “Digital Agenda.” While the changes, as revealed by the BITKOM survey, and as initiated by the Digital Agenda, are not revolutionary, they do indicate that biometrics-based systems in big data contexts have become an important issue.

Individualized treatments with big data

The research center of the Hasso Plattner Institute analyzes enormous quantities of medical data with the aim of developing strategies for fast, individualized treatment methods. With their efforts, the Potsdam-based researchers are upholding the motto “big data makes people healthy and happy.” A doctor in the small city of Kleinmachnow, for example, might discover new symptoms in a patient and be uncertain about what treatments to choose, so she consults a database. “What’s new about that?,” you might well object, “the Internet already makes that easy.” Big data is the new factor that has come into the picture. For example, a doctor in Vancouver and a research institute in Sydney could find themselves dealing with virtually identical cases: the same stage of a disease, the same patient age, blood parameters, life circumstances and genetic disposition. The key is that all the data they require are available right away, in anonymous form. Our doctor in Kleinmachnow would thus be able to make a precise diagnosis, and plan the next treatment steps, while she is still seeing the patient.

We’re just getting started

Before this type of approach can become a reality, a number of questions have to be answered. How are patients’ data and privacy being protected? Who owns digital medical data records? Where and how should the data be encrypted and stored? How should the data be exchanged (between doctors located anywhere from Vancouver to Kleinmachnow), and how should treatment successes be recorded and made available for study?

The Digital Agenda is pointing in the right direction

Although they do not always agree on the details, most experts do agree that the Digital Agenda is a significant step forward for Germany. With the agenda, the German government is paving the way for “digitalization in key future markets and areas, via expansion of the eHealth Initiative and intensified networking.” Big-data centers of excellence are now to be established in Berlin and Dresden. As part of their work, they will help develop the potential of big data for the healthcare sector.

All stakeholders have the same aim

People expect the healthcare sector to offer safe, innovative therapies and treatments. To make such solutions possible, research centers provide data and findings, policymakers provide the necessary legal and societal framework and competent, experienced companies such as T-Systems provide the infrastructure.

Even if things are not moving quite as fast as most of us hope, we have indeed made much progress toward the aim of “big data makes people healthy and happy.” For companies such as T-Systems, which have extensive activities in the medical sector, such progress provides a reliable basis for planning. And it provides a reliable basis for industry partnerships.

Sven Löffler

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