Professor Gernot Marx


Director of the Department of Surgical Intensive Care Medicine and Intermediate Care at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen and President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI)

Prof. Gernot Marx Copyright: © privat

Making Use of Digitalization Opportunities to Promote Innovative Healthcare and Healthcare Research

The Innovation Center Digital Medicine at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen is a real trendsetter and driver of innovation in North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany, and abroad in the area of digital developments in medicine. These include developments in telemedicine, artificial intelligence, telemonitoring, and robotics. Large projects that are funded with public money produce digital and medical innovations and these innovations are then immediately transferred into healthcare. At RWTH Aachen University, digital medicine is a strong and sustainable link between the fields of Data Science, Life Science and Engineering.

The core challenges for a healthcare system that is fit for the future are as follows: the requirements that come about as a result of demographic development, the increasing care requirements, and the increasing quality demands. Another key challenge takes the form of the medical/technical advancements that are being made whilst simultaneously needing to make the very best use of scarce HR and economic resources. The acute need to take action here is being implemented right at the patient’s bedside by the Innovation Center Digital Medicine via the transfer of digital and medical science.

We saw an example of how the initial idea of a project can be developed and transferred into regular care during the COVID-19 pandemic: the rapid implementation of the precursor to the NRW Virtual Hospital, which in turn was originally developed during the successfully finished innovation fund project TelNet@NRW. The Virtual Hospital is a telemedical care concept that makes medical expertise available to all in a manner that is appropriate to the indication in question. By making use of intensive telemedical consultations during the pandemic, the project was able to positively influence patients’ and system-relevant outcomes such as mortality and the number of patients who had to be transferred to other institutions.

The update to the center catalog of the Federal Joint Committee in February 2021 that included centers with an intensive medical digitally supported care network enables the financing of this project. These are known as IDV centers for short. Uniklinik RWTH Aachen has just been named as an IDV center by the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. There is also a similar Europe-wide telemedical expert concept that also makes artificial intelligence available at intensive care beds; this is being applied at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen as part of the EU project ICU4Covid.

The University of Excellence RWTH and the Innovation Center Digital Medicine at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen form a location that boasts a variety of professional expertise. The innovative potential that arises from this union creates a beacon for digital medicine in Germany and it has already been identified as being truly pioneering by the German Science and Humanities Council in Aachen. The joint interaction of medicine and technology is what is required for interdisciplinary digitalization in the field of healthcare to develop further.