Times of crisis are nonetheless often the catalyst we need for innovation- and few sectors have seen crisis as much in the last year as Healthcare.

From vaccine development to new forms of treatment and telehealth, the pressures of the pandemic have required massive and extremely rapid changes to established ways of working, and placed extreme pressure on organisations to be innovative in order to keep functioning.

For Professor Dominik Alscher, Executive Chief Physician at the Robert Bosch Hospital in Stuttgart, the experience was transformative. Before the pandemic the hospital was extremely open and accessible to all, but the risk of infection to both patients and staff meant that this was no longer tenable.

The demanding and time-consuming nature of COVID-19 treatment combined with the seriousness of the disease and the ease of transmission meant that in only a few weeks the hospital had to move to a completely new model, with decisions made in a few hours rather than over weeks and digital interactions replacing most face to face contact. The new procedures worked well, enabling the hospital to treat several thousand Covid19 patients with only 2 transmissions to staff in the pandemic’s first wave.

It was here that the Hospital’s links to the Robert Bosch Foundation became extremely useful. “The Foundation is an enabler to bridge the fields between industry and medicine,” Professor Alscher explained. Close collaboration with industry during the pandemic, especially with Stuttgart’s automotive sector, allowed the rapid development of new techniques and diagnostic options. This included a 30-minute PCR COVID-19 test, which made a huge difference in treating patients and ensuring staff safety.

“Many healthcare institutions had previously taken a relatively cautious approach to digitalisation,” Professor Alscher noted, “but pandemic has moved things forward as it has forced the more conservative elements in the health sector to adopt these technologies. We are reaching a tipping point and this will lead to a massive transformation. In five years everything will be different.”

The disruption has been enormous, he admits, but it could nevertheless transform care. As hospitals increasingly get access to large databases and share information, a tipping point has potentially been reached and could lead to a fundamental shift in the way we treat illness in the next few years.

Professor Alscher is optimistic for the future. “This is all very much in the spirit of Robert Bosch”, he says. “Digitalisation can be so transformative. The Foundation can really bring everyone together to learn from new technologies, and that’s a massive strength.”

While the last year has been extremely challenging for Healthcare professionals, the demands of the pandemic might just lead to a health revolution in the medium term.

Want to hear more? Register to attend the next Leaders LIVE debate on this topic.

Crisis as a catalyst for innovation – what’s next for healthcare tech?

Tuesday 4 May 2021, 9.30am BST / 10.30am CET / 11.30am IST

Register Now