Robert Bosch Center for Innovative Health

“We are exploring new Approaches to Healthcare”

Dr. Ingrid Wünning Tschol heads the Robert Bosch Center for Innovative Health (RBIH) at the Bosch Health Campus in Stuttgart, Germany. In this role, she will be driving healthcare pilot projects in years to come. Her team's initial work priorities include optimizing patient journeys through the healthcare system and evaluating the experience gained from the potential digitization offers.

Paul-Philipp Hanske
Getty Images, Plainpicture
July 11, 2022

Dr. Wünning Tschol, how does the Bosch Health Campus differ from other modern hospitals in Germany?

The Bosch Health Campus is much more than a hospital. We not only practice cutting-edge medicine, but also conduct high-level research and training. And there’s also us, the Robert Bosch Center for Innovative Health (RBIH), one of the innovation drivers for the Living Lab Bosch Health Campus (BHC). Here, we’re exploring new approaches to healthcare in cooperation with excellent national and international partners. The BHC is benefiting from synergies in its activities, proximity to the Robert Bosch Stiftung with its global topics and networks, and all Bosch’s know-how as an internationally operating company. Our focus here is always on people!

Dr. Ingrid Wünning Tschol

Ingrid Wünning Tschol heads the Robert Bosch Center for Innovative Health at the Bosch Health Campus. The biologist joined the Robert Bosch Stiftung in 1999 after several years as a post-doc at MIT in Boston and further positions at the German Research Foundation in Bonn and the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg. Ingrid Wünning Tschol is a member of numerous national and international committees.

What would optimal patient care look like from your perspective?

At the Bosch Health Campus we pursue many different approaches to good health care, such as translational research, i.e. the rapid translation of research results into treatment at the bedside ("bench to bedside"). It’s a matter of great concern to me that we provide people with the best possible support across the entire continuum of care from prevention to medical therapy monitoring and aftercare. Advances in digitization are opening up great opportunities for this. 

What could this look like?

Everyone ought to have access to healthcare and be able to find their way around the healthcare system, ideally before they become ill. This means that prevention must become a self-evident element of healthcare. But if someone does get ill, it is essential that everything is documented in a well-structured and accessible manner, so that all healthcare professionals involved in diagnosis, therapy, follow-up treatment and care can obtain a full picture of the entire person and their state of health, including their medical history, as quickly as possible. 

A health card is handed over.
How do you reconcile patients’ data-privacy interests with the best possible documentation of individual medical histories?

Isn’t that already the case?

Unfortunately, not. The problem starts as early as anamnesis, i.e. recording a patient's complaints, medical history, and physical condition. Not every patient understands their body and modern medicine to such an extent that they can provide those treating them with a complex picture of their condition and medical history. This means that important information about the patient isn’t recorded. And often there are situations where patients are unable to talk about their medical history anyway because they are unconscious, for example. In such cases, lives could be saved if those treating the patient could immediately view the history of the illness, the medications administered, any interventions, and so on. At the same time, the healthcare system would benefit if costly multiple examinations were avoided.  

You mean superfluous X-rays or CT scans?

Yes, that's just one example. For one thing, it's not good to be exposed to X-rays too often. For another, the costs run into hundreds of euros. It becomes particularly expensive in the field of genome analysis since human DNA does not change in the short term. In an increasing number of diseases, these analyses are already part of the anamnesis, and they will increase significantly as a result of the new possibilities opened up by personalized medicine. It quite obviously makes no sense to sequence a person's genome over and over again.  

“It’s a matter of great concern to me that we provide people with the best possible support across the entire continuum of care from prevention to medical therapy monitoring and aftercare.”

Quote fromDr. Ingrid Wünning Tschol
Quote fromDr. Ingrid Wünning Tschol

In Germany, reservations about electronic patient records are repeatedly expressed. What’s your position in this debate?

There must be clear rules. The data belong to the patients, who can make them available to a medical establishment to enable better treatment. Once a patient’s consent has been given, the data can, but do not necessarily have to be released for research purposes. Commercial use of the data must be prohibited. Patients are also entitled to know that employers or health insurers will not be informed about hereditary diseases or health risks. I’m convinced that people's concerns can be allayed through such rules and open discussion. At Bosch Health Campus, we advocate an enlightened and potential-oriented approach to data. 

What does that exactly mean?

All of us voluntarily leave very personal data on the web, for example when shopping online, and only very few people know what happens to those data. Yet many innovations in medicine, for example in the field of molecular tumor therapies, will only progress if numerous people anonymously make their health-related data available. You can regard this as their personal contribution to the healthcare of society. In other words, there has to be a legal framework to ensure that donating data for medical research becomes just as natural as donating blood. 

A doctor is talking to a patient.
How do you ensure that all doctors, nurses and other medical staff have all the important information at their fingertips?

What impact would electronic medical files have on the dovetailing of medicine and care?

Here, we see great potential for innovation and benefits for every individual. That nursing staff, for example, are stressfully overworked has not just been common knowledge since the pandemic. Digital solutions, such as automated compilation of medication for individual patients, could provide real relief here. Or imagine the case where Ms. X ends up in trauma surgery because her cardiac arrhythmia caused her to fall and fracture the neck of her femur. The nursing staff on such a ward are not normally specially trained to look out for other illnesses. However, if this woman’s electronic patient file can provide them with relevant instructions, for example that her blood pressure should be measured twice as often, procedures will be simplified and patient safety increased. But of course, nursing staff need the appropriate digital skills. We’re already cooperating with the Careum Foundation to offer training projects which nursing staff from our Robert Bosch Hospital are also taking part in. 

What do you expect from the pilot projects at the Bosch Health Campus?

We not only want to contribute to the overall success of the Robert Bosch Hospital, our nursing school, and our research work, but also give the Bosch Health Campus and its partners high visibility through pioneering projects for a future-proof healthcare system. My personal vision is that in five years' time Germany’s Health Minister will come down from Berlin to Stuttgart to see the healthcare of the future in practice at our hospital – with all the necessary changes these major challenges demand. This isn’t about our image but rather that we want to win over fellow campaigners from practice and politics to implement successfully tested pilot projects elsewhere for the benefit of patients – and think ahead.

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