Concept

This section presents the various considerations, plans and contextual issues that have informed our vision of a national health platform. This is where questions such as what content should be provided and how its quality can be ensured are explored. Other questions include how to cultivate a digital ecosystem that benefits everyone involved, what kind of organization might serve as the platform operator, and how to finance the platform.
Having collected and compiled the answers to these and many other questions in a rapidly shifting context, we’ve decided to publish our findings now and adapt our concept as things evolve.

Overview

Together with the Fraunhofer Institute (IESE) and several other experts, we have created a blueprint for a digital ecosystem that is informed by our conceptual considerations. Illustrating specific concepts and ideas, this blueprint is intended to serve as a source of inspiration and ideas for those aiming to build a national health platform. The contributions in this section provide an overview of our approach.


Conceptual considerations: an overview

Our vision of a national health platform foresees a trustworthy information architecture within the healthcare sector that aims to streamline the management of health-related information and render top-tier information and data more readily available.  This contribution offers a bird’s eye view of the digital ecosystem we’ve envisioned and outlines the key stakeholders, roles and processes involved.

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Benefit Model

A digital ecosystem’s success is determined primarily by the benefits it generates for its participants. Its capacity to balance the interests of various actors is crucial to ensuring genuine benefits for everyone involved. This is the key to fostering network effects that drive rapid growth. For our vision of a national health platform, we’ve drafted an initial benefit model that prioritizes patients without losing sight of the needs of traditional actors in the healthcare and health-tech sectors.


Benefit model for a national health platform

A key success factor for digital platforms lies in the benefits they generate both for participating providers and consumers. Working jointly with the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (IESE) and the Bittner & Thranberend concept agency, we have developed a benefit model for the national health platform that provides advantages to all participating stakeholders. Digital platforms can give providers of goods and services access to a large customer base, while customers in turn can find a broad selection of offers and services there (see Ecosystem design: benefits-for-all).

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Ecosystem design: Benefits for all

To thrive in today’s market, digital platform operators need to consider the interests of all ecosystem participants. By delivering benefits and creating advantages for everyone involved, they can unlock the potential of network effects and scalability. This principle holds true even for a non-profit national health platform.

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Ownership Model

Efforts to implement a national health platform must be anchored within a sustainable institutional framework that has the authority to manage its operation. This raises the question as to which administrative institution is most appropriate for such a platform. Can an existing organization assume the role of platform operator, or is an entirely new structure needed for this purpose? In collaboration with the Bielefeld-based law firm Brandi Rechtsanwälte, we’ve explored various options, including the potential role of state actors, and present our findings here.  Additional contributions addressing the issue of ownership models and governance will follow.  


The state as a provider of information: What is the government allowed to do?

When developing a structural model for a prospective national health platform, it seems reasonable to assume, at least at first, that some kind of state-run service would be the most ideal provider. We should not forget, however, that the provision of information by the state – which we define as the communication of a range of information, warnings and recommendations – is subject to specific legal standards and guidelines.

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Ownership: Public or private?

When establishing a national healthcare platform, it is crucial to identify a suitable legal structure that fulfills all the necessary requirements and effectively supports the ecosystem in which it operates. In terms of ownership, a number of different options are available, each involving a variety of advantages and disadvantages. The first question to arise at this point is whether the platform should be operated by a public or a private-sector actor.

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Operating Model

Breathing life into a digital ecosystem requires meticulous forethought in considering and planning the interplay of people, processes and technologies. This includes accounting for structural and operational considerations as well as financial aspects. In this section, we've compiled all contributions relating to the operational framework of the proposed national health platform. This encompasses discussions on funding strategies, production processes and collaborative partnerships. As the project advances, we will continue to supplement the content in this section with new contributions.

Invest in benefits: Financing models for health ecosystems

Realizing the vision of a national health platform as outlined in the Trusted Health Ecosystems project could generate financial benefits at many different points and help improve the overall economics of the healthcare system. However, this will require a sustainable and independent financing model that can provide the necessary flexibility for the initial development process, ongoing operations, and future updates and expansions. The solution most likely lies in a combination of different financing approaches.

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Successfully establishing health ecosystems – models from abroad

A health ecosystem, such as the one envisaged by the “Trusted Health Ecosystems” project, must fulfill several requirements if it is to bring value to stakeholders within a health system. International models have demonstrated that a successful operational model combines the active participation and coordination among involved actors with common technical standards. Digital ecosystems have transformed traditional business models across various industries, generating added value for customers and market participants. For instance, e-commerce-platform providers and prospective buyers can now directly interact, which leads to more efficient transactions.

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Creating vs. brokering editorial content: Where does the content come from?

The vision of a national health platform outlined in the “Trusted Health Ecosystems” project raises questions about the origin of the content and services offered there. A demand-driven offering requires a diverse range of information and services, which a single provider may struggle to fulfill alone. However, the platform operator does not have to create the content on their own. The following considerations explore whether the platform operator should generate their own information or focus on facilitating third-party information.

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Quality Model

A cornerstone of our product vision for a national health platform rests on the quality-driven selection of trustworthy health information. Users must have confidence in the accuracy, timeliness and unbiased nature of the information they encounter. This is essential to cultivating trust. Working together with international partner organizations, we have launched an initiative to spotlight trusted health information providers to be featured on platforms. Our vision includes the creation of a digital “InfoQ” certificate which could potentially change the information landscape.


InfoQ: Making quality visible

Our vision of a national health platform is all about trust. This includes ensuring that users can rely absolutely on the quality of the content and services being offered. But how can this goal be realized in an era of disinformation and conspiracy theories?

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Software Architecture

Software architecture serves as the backbone of a digital ecosystem, wielding significant influece over its performance, security and usability. A well-designed software architecture facilitates rapid scalability, ensures the smooth and seamless exchange of data, and establishes the groundwork for user-friendly, responsive and coherent user interfaces. When it comes to realizing a national health platform, technical planning helps prepare for the costs involved and feasibility issues. As the project progresses, we will update this section with topical contributions.

Initial thoughts on the technical structure of the national health platform

The software architecture of a digital platform illustrates its structure, but also offers information regarding expected costs and the technical feasibility of certain requirements. In the case of the national health platform outlined here, the architecture will follow the basic pattern of other intermediary platforms, but can be elaborated in detail only once all requirements necessary for implementation have been defined and all open questions conclusively answered. During the concept development stage, some questions were deliberately left unanswered so as to provide flexibility and avoid building any premature decisions into the process.

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