Other business opportunities are also being created, as a result of the new law, with the further development of the electronic health card. Since 2015, all Germans who are members of a health insurance fund have such a card. Currently, the cards only store limited data, for example, the name of the patient, their address and patient number. From next year, additional data will be stored, including details of the patient’s blood type, allergies and emergency contacts.
This additional data is to be recorded by doctors on their patients’ cards, requiring the installation of card-reading devices and the associated software in all medical practices. Pharmacies and nursery homes also need to have technology to read the cards. This provides business opportunities for software and hardware providers as well as IT consultants. “With the new law, we are paving the way for an electronic patient record,” says minister Gröhe.
Parallel to the e-health law, an innovation fund has been set up to help start-up companies in healthcare to design innovative products. The fund will have an annual budget of €300m by 2019. “The innovation fund is a huge opportunity for start-ups,” says Juliane Pohl from the German medical technology industry association BVMed. Currently, 117 projects are supported by the fund, with another 228 under consideration.