16:07 6 May 2019
Post by: WBJ

HealthTech in Berlin

Interview with Lutz Hasse, Innovation Strategist at FTWK, set to speak at the upcoming InfoShare conference Interview by Beata Socha

HealthTech in Berlin

WBJ: What did the Berlin start-up scene look like ten years ago?

Lutz Hasse: Very Different. There weren't a lot of start-ups around in Berlin ten years ago. The city was easy going, an affordable place to live, not only for artists, and the city didn't know much about his future as the place to be for European start-ups. As people say: Berlin was poor but sexy. That changed a lot until today and with success also a lot of problems like gentrification, to name one, are growing in Berlin.

What made it grow so quickly?

Berghain & Techno! :) Well, obviously club culture combined with low living costs and salaries, in the capital of one of the biggest global economies, attracted a lot of young and talented people, who were seeking for opportunities after the financial crisis kicked in 10 years ago. Besides that, the internet was overall a growth factor for the world. New Business Models were developed, build and scaled not only in Europe. A central influence on the fast growth of the ecosystem in Berlin was coming from the Samwer Brothers and the Rocket Internet ecosystem. Berlin was slowly but surely gaining attraction on the investor's side too. Even the lack of keen VCs in Europe is still a big issue for a strong pipeline of start-ups coming out of Europe. Besides that, successful founders started to invest in other founders. That is important, to hand over money, mentoring and experience to the next generation of founders.

Do you think that the success of Berlin can be replicated?

You can't replicate history. I would rephrase it and ask, could you successfully compete with Berlin? Definitely yes, cause Berlin is doing a lot of things wrong! If the place has all the ingredients: a charming city which attracts talents, ideas, and investors while providing access to markets and customers, anything is possible anywhere.

What are the current trends in MedTech?

Several technologies (Apps, Sensors, AI, Robots, 3D Printing) recently entered the healthcare space, enabling new products, services, and business models. From telemedicine services, electronic health records to digital biomarkers, robotic companions to the personalization of therapies. Technology is supporting humanity to live healthier and longer.

The miniaturization of technology, e.g., sensors & hardware, the dropping costs of things, make the scaling of healthcare point of care systems affordable and accessible to more people while bringing down the costs.

Do you think that a future, where wearables monitor our health 24/7 and AIs perform all the tests and suggest diagnoses is a realistic picture?

True, it's possible, but is it desirable?

When do you think we will see the first AI used in medicine on a large scale?

The question is, how do you define AI? We already see excellent systems leveraging data and science, like Ada Health, a symptom checker, based in Berlin. Bio-Statistics is a mature subject; what's new today is an enormous computing power to play around with large data sets. The challenge of every algorithm or AI that wants to make it into the market and clinical usage is to prove in a clinical trial that it's safe and effective.

What is the attitude of medical personnel to MedTech?

Good question! There is a massive lack of personnel in the healthcare industry, that will even get worse in the next decade. In the US for example, 50 percent of the nurses are above 50 years old. Healthcare will have a shortage of 1 million nurses by 2030. That doesn't look much different in Europe. The Charité, Europe's largest university clinic, tries to attract people from all over the world to come to Berlin, to train them as nurses and doctors to close the gap in an aging society.

In addition to that, 27 times per day nurses use technology or care differently from the innovators' (MedTech provider) expectation. It seems they have to hack the current technology to get their job done. That's an unfortunate result for the healthcare industry in times of maximum user-centricity in the consumer space.

Besides that, nurses and doctors are facing administrative madness, a tremendous jungle of documentation efforts, while hospital and doctors are getting more and more pressure from the financial perspective. Technology can only help to a certain extent to improve the situation. Regulation needs to adjust the system and financial flows between the stakeholder, need to be re-evaluated, to shift from an output to an outcome-based healthcare system.


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