You don't want to be a health researcher in Germany. And actually not a patient either. While digitization in medical care and research is well advanced in other countries, Germany is not only lagging behind. It's knocked off.

The new attempt, the new digital strategy of Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), tries to prevent worse, and therefore deserves support. The question is whether the gap can ever be made up again.

It's not about the money

It's not because of the money. Hardly any other country invests more resources in its health system than the Federal Republic. Nevertheless, even the much-maligned National Health Service performs better in the UK. Young academics are increasingly migrating, the research-based industry is migrating from Germany, even model companies such as Biontech. This is detrimental to the location, but above all to the patients.

They are also immediately at a disadvantage in care, because twenty years after the first initiative, there is still no electronic patient record (EHR). But it saves lives, as foreign countries show. Data protection concerns must be taken seriously. But you don't have to overdo it. After all, the General Data Protection Regulation also applies in the other EU countries, and the hitherto analogous handling of medical data in this country is much more susceptible to misuse than the digital one.

What is missing is the right attitude to the new possibilities. Germans trust online shopping and banking, and willingly share their data via social media, Google or the Apple Watch. But where it would really matter, many stonewall. It is therefore right to issue the ePA to every insured person without being asked and not to wait for approval. Properly operated, progress in this case not only protects one's own health, but also that of others.