Sunday, June 7, 2020

For Health Minister Jens Spahn, everything is about

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I.n normal times, Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) likes to garnish his speeches with set pieces such as: Thanks to the quality of the German health system, every German citizen can be happy when he wakes up in the morning that his life expectancy has increased by another hour overnight. Another bon mot is that the Germans willingly collected and scattered personal data electronically, including medical ones, but that many refused to collect similar information in the healthcare system, even anonymized ones.

Both statements are up to date again today in a changed context. In fact, the Germans can be thankful to their often reviled health care system that it is comparatively well prepared for the corona crisis. It is not just about the intensive care beds, the high density of general practitioners and the complete insurance coverage are important prerequisites for what currently appears to be the most important task: to gain time to start up the clinics, to develop vaccines and therapies, to to test more people in order to change life so that Germany survives the emergency (well).

Nobody knows whether and how this works. Precisely because the system is so powerful and the number of serious illnesses is still manageable, many in this country consider themselves to be under the wrong security. You have to be clear: the more tests a healthcare system can achieve, the lower the relative death rate. The many contagions caused by carnivals and ski trips distort the statistics, because it is mainly young people who have been infected there. As soon as the pathogen jumps to the old and the weak, for example in old people’s homes, the picture darkens.

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In other words, our healthcare system may be better than anywhere else. It could still be defeated against Corona.

So that things don’t get that far, modern technology should help. Spahn wants to use mobile data to determine the contacts of infected people and at best break the infection chains. In other countries, this process has been fruitful. In Germany the minister failed for the time being. Under pressure from data protection officers and the Minister of Justice, he had to delete “cell phone tracking” from his bill to expand federal competencies in an emergency. Spahn encountered similar resistance here as in his previous efforts to digitally collect patient data.

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Christian Geinitz

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