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EU trails in digital healthcare race; Taiwan marches ahead

Despite global expectations, Germany and the European Union have trailed in the race for digital healthcare, a surprising development compared to Taiwan’s advancements.

Insiders entrenched in the biomedical sector note a consistent lag in digital transformation, a phenomenon not exclusive to Taiwan but also pervasive across Europe. Karl Lauterbach, Germany’s Federal Minister of Health has openly acknowledged the country’s digital deficit, citing a ten-year delay in areas such as the digitalization of healthcare systems. Even after a quarter-century since the introduction of electronic health records, Germany still grapples with limited adoption.

The sluggish pace can be attributed partly to the collective need for medical institutions and patients to enhance their digital literacy and acceptance. Observations from DMEA 2024, as opposed to the international procurement-centric MEDICA, suggest a pivot towards bolstering foundational digital capabilities in medical institutions and prioritizing public trust in digital systems.

While MEDICA caters to distributors, retailers, and system integrators, DMEA focuses squarely on hospital CIOs, IT departments, and decision-makers across diverse healthcare sectors, underscoring significant distinctions between the two events.

German healthcare insiders reveal a glaring lack of interoperability among most hospitals, particularly in structured data transmission. Consequently, Germany has prioritized healthcare digitalization, evident in the passage of the Hospital Future Act (KHZG) in 2020, which earmarks approximately EUR4 billion to incentivize digital infrastructure adoption in hospitals. Failure to implement eligible digital services by 2025 could result in penalties.

Despite concerted efforts, Germany’s healthcare industry remains in the nascent stages of digitalization, primarily focusing on streamlining outpatient and inpatient workflows through automated processes. As such, establishing robust digital infrastructure emerges as a critical imperative for Germany and the wider EU market.

There’s a discernible trend towards de-Chinification in Europe, with a heightened emphasis on cybersecurity and the cultivation of trust-based digital healthcare ecosystems.

Globally, healthcare data protection is paramount, particularly in the EU, where GDPR enforcement is stringent. For local healthcare institutions, practicality takes precedence over cost, while Taiwanese manufacturers may need to adapt their solutions to meet stringent local technological standards.

In contrast, Taiwan’s annual Healthcare+ Expo showcases a vibrant landscape of AI-driven medical diagnostics and smartphone-enabled physiological monitoring, highlighting the stark disparity between Taiwan’s innovation prowess and Germany’s digital healthcare landscape. Industry insiders acknowledge Taiwan’s ICT industry’s impressive strides in medical technology innovation, a testament to its global competitiveness. DIGITIMES Asia

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