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Promoting data sharing: discussing hurdles and incentives

Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) workshop identifies wide range of perspectives on data sharing

23 May 2018. What preconditions would help – or hinder – the exchange of data? This question was a key focus of the Medical Informatics Initiative’s workshop on data sharing, which took place from 19 to 20 April 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Attendees agreed that data sharing cannot be enforced from above; instead, standardised structures and regulations can pave the way for the necessary cultural change.



Research meets patient care: TMF provides support for digital transformation in medicine

150 attendees at the 10th TMF annual conference 2018 in Hamburg

20 March 2018. “TMF has provided support for digital transformation in medical research for over 15 years. So a TMF conference dedicated to digitalisation is somewhat of an anachronism,” observed Professor Michael Krawczak (University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus), Chairman of the TMF Board of Directors, at the opening of the 10th TMF annual conference on 14 March 2018 at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. What is new, however, is the close link between research and healthcare – a focus that shaped the conference programme. At the two-day event, approximately 150 medical researchers, research managers, medical IT specialists, biobank experts and other professionals discussed the opportunities digital transformation is creating in medical research and healthcare. They also exchanged insights into challenges and possibilities for collaboration, and presented best-practice examples.



Combining clinical routine and research data for better insights

17 partners from university hospitals, research and industry organisations launch medical informatics project

On 20 February 2018, the Smart Medical Information Technology for Healthcare (SMITH) consortium of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) held a kick-off meeting to provide insights into its upcoming work. High-level representatives from SMITH’s seven participating university hospitals, its founding universities, and from its industry and research partners were all present.



Data integration in research and healthcare

The 2017 TMF School focused on the ideas at the heart of the Medical Informatics Initiative

22 June 2017. TMF School 2017, from 19 to 21 June in Schloss Rauischholzhausen near Giessen, Germany, highlighted a variety of topics – chosen, in part, to reflect the ideas behind the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) Medical Informatics Initiative (MII). These ranged from IT architecture to data management, standards and terminology, data protection and ethics, and dialogue with stakeholders. The initiative’s consortia are currently preparing for the start of the second phase of funding (development and networking phase).



Evaluating biobanks’ success based on their value for research

250 attendees in Berlin for the fifth National Biobank Symposium

15 December 2016. In future, biobanks’ success should be measured not only by the number of samples they store – but on how many of those resources are leveraged for research projects. This suggestion was made by Dominic Allen, Chief Operating Officer at the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL), during his keynote address at the beginning of the fifth German National Biobank Symposium. The event drew approximately 250 attendees to Berlin, Germany, on 7 and 8 December 2016.



Big data: improving data accessibility, integration and usability

150 attendees at a Berlin conference on the challenges and benefits of big data analytics in healthcare and research

14 December 2016. “X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and blood tests, generate huge volumes of heterogeneous data. Plus there are doctors’ reports and treatment histories in electric health records in hospital information systems (HIS). This data can be leveraged for research to improve patient care. But before this can take place, we need to improve and ensure data accessibility, integration and usability – enabling big-data analytics to be evidence-based,” emphasised Sebastian C. Semler (TMF) at a conference on big data in Berlin on 13 December 2016. The event was jointly hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs (BMWI)’s Smart Data initiative, the Bundesverband Gesundheits-IT (bvitg; an association of German healthcare IT providers), and TMF.



Verifying the reliability, safety and ethics of IT systems for clinical research

TMF training workshop on system validation

8 December 2016. Over 20 participants from 16 research institutions converged at TMF on 8 December for a training workshop. Their goal: to obtain and exchange information on best practices and requirements for validating IT systems for clinical studies – specifically in GCP (good clinical practice) environments. The workshop was based on recently updated TMF documents on system validation.



Advanced Docker: from testing to production

TMF workshop on applying Docker containers to medical research

8 December 2016. Docker is a recent yet popular software containerisation technology for the lean, resource-efficient virtualisation of IT applications. A TMF workshop in Berlin on 7 December 2016 provided in-depth guidance on Docker containers to attendees with prior experience. Specifically, it considered the orchestration of various containers, scenarios drawn from ongoing operations, and the deployment of container management solutions such as Google Kubernetes.



A Bit of Berlin in Bethesda

Biobanking highlights in a nutshell at ISBER Regional Meeting 2016

14 November 2016. Highlights and conclusions from the ISBER Annual Meeting held in Berlin/Germany in April 2016 were summarized in a session chaired by Roman Siddiqui (TMF/Germany) and Cari Lichtman (American Cancer Society/USA) at the ISBER Regional Meeting in Bethesda/USA on November 7, 2016. This was another opportunity to present Germany’s vibrant and well-organized biobanking community.



Expanding the role of informatics in medicine: fresh impetus for research and healthcare

The BMBF’s Medical Informatics funding scheme takes effect

12 October 2016. The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) recently launched its Medical Informatics initiative with the aim of improving the use of healthcare and research data. Specifically, the new funding scheme is intended to strengthen medical research and enhance patient care. To this end, BMBF will allocate 100 million euros over the coming years. During the first phase, consortia of university hospitals and partner organisations (e.g. research institutions, private clinics) will build and connect data integration centres. This will allow research and medical care data to be exchanged across multiple sites. In addition, the partners will simultaneously develop innovative IT solutions for concrete medical applications.


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