Health apps now available on prescription in Germany
Two healthcare apps can now be prescribed by doctors in Germany with the costs covered by statutory insurance.
The two apps are Kalmeda, which aims to help with tinnitus, and Velibra, a digital therapy programme for anxiety.
The move follows the launch of the Digital Healthcare Act (DVG) in 2019, which grants doctors in Germany permission to prescribe apps to their patients. According to consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, while only six per cent of patients have used paid medical apps in the past, around 60 percent say they would use these tools if their physician prescribed them and the costs were covered.
Legislation to digitise the country's healthcare system was passed in November 2019. As well as making medical apps available this way, the new laws are aiming to make the country's health system paperless, with e-prescriptions and plans to introduce electronic health records for patients with statutory insurance by 2021.
Digital health experts Jan Bordon and Gabor Kiss from Simon-Kucher & Partners say that while this presents a great opportunity for the digital healthcare industry, it also carries a degree of risk, particularly where price negotiations are concerned.
In a statement, the consultants warned that companies should be prepared to negotiate: "Based on our experience with negotiations involving the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG), we know how important it is to develop a clear pricing strategy. Without a thorough preparation and a structured plan and strategy for negotiations, companies will not succeed.
"In addition, the health insurance association will leverage its knowledge and experience from AMNOG processes, so companies should be prepared for tough price negotiations. If an app is already on the market and paid out of pocket, its selling price will impact its potential future reimbursement price. Furthermore the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-SV) may reference reimbursement prices in other countries that integrate models similar to the German approach in their healthcare systems, and this may affect price negotiations.
"This makes it all the more crucial for providers to have a comprehensive pricing strategy ready at an early stage."
Data de-identification - why it matters in healthcare
Large amounts of healthcare data is generated yet goes unused due to privacy concerns. To address this, data privacy firm TripleBlind has created Blind De-identification, a new approach that allows healthcare organisations to use patient data while eliminating the possibility of the user learning anything about the patient’s identity.
We asked Riddhiman Das, co-founder and CEO to tell us more about data de-identification.
Why is data de-identification important in healthcare?
Blind De-identification allows every attribute of any given dataset to be used, even at an individual level, while being compliant to privacy laws, rules, and regulations by default.
Governments around the world are adopting global data privacy and residency laws like GDPR, which prohibit citizens’ personally identifiable information data from leaving the borders of the country. While great for data protection, data residency laws result in global silos of inaccessible data. TripleBlind allows computations to be done on enterprise-wise global data, while enforcing data residency regulations.
In the US, HIPAA compliance has relied on what is called the Safe Harbor method, which requires removing 18 types of personal patient identifiers like names, email addresses, and medical record numbers. The Safe Harbor method can be too restrictive with the data or can leave too many indirect identifiers, which puts the patient data security at risk. Getting de-identification wrong could make an organisation liable for a costly mistake.
What does TripleBlind's solution do?
With TripleBlind, data is legally de-identified in real time with practically 0% probability of re-identification. Our solution allows analytics on data containing personally identifiable information and protected health information with zero possibility of re-identifying an individual from the dataset. This allows healthcare organisations to access more meaningful data, creating more accurate and less biased results.
For example, a healthcare drug researcher in a rural, predominantly white area, would only have patient data that would reflect their local population. With TripleBlind’s de-identification, they could more easily leverage third-party data from another healthcare facility in a more diverse region, creating a more complete data set that more accurately reflects the larger population. This has the possibility to create more accurate diagnoses and better drug results for more diverse populations.
How can healthcare organisations use this in practice?
TripleBlind is blind to all data and algorithms. That means we never take possession of customer data. We only route traffic between entities, enforce permissions, and provide audit trails. The enterprise’s data remains under their control. TripleBlind does not host, copy or control their data, algorithms or other information assets, ever.
We facilitate a connection to an encrypted version of their information assets. Our technology allows the algorithms and data to interact in an encrypted space that only exists for the duration of the operation. Organisations use their existing infrastructure, so it’s not hardware dependent.