Prof. Dr. Dr. Felix Balzer

Medical Data Science

At the beginning of 2021, Prof. Dr. Dr. Felix Balzer took up the W3 tenured professorship for Medical Data Science at Charité - Universitätsmedizin and the Einstein Center Digital Future. As Chief Medical Information Officer, the physician and computer scientist bridges the gap between requirements in the medical field and information technology: translating computer science into medicine, providing suitable IT solutions for the requirements of physicians, nurses and patients, and making data from medicine and healthcare usable for tailored diagnostics and individual therapy.

In the future, patients are to be more involved: "Anyone coming to the hospital should be able to check in online in advance - this is already common practice with airlines. Patients should be able to see on their smartphones how long they have to wait," he said. In the future, patients will have access to more and more data about their own health status via intelligent apps, so they can be more involved in decision-making. Digital structures are also expected to reduce the workload for physicians and nursing staff. The documentation workload in both the medical and nursing fields is constantly increasing, leading to frustration and can even lead to burnout. "I would like to achieve that IT solutions lead to an easing of workload. To achieve this, we need to work closely with physicians and nurses to understand their needs. However, it is also clear that innovation initially means additional work and requires time and good will. We have to take that into account," says Balzer. It is also important for the treating physicians that digitally collected data is available at all times. Balzer explains that around 18 percent of treatment errors are caused by the fact that relevant information cannot be accessed ad hoc - a rate that could be significantly reduced with optimized digital processes.

In addition to technical problems, these new possibilities also raise important questions about data protection and patients' right to self-determination. "In general, many questions arise that can only be answered on an interdisciplinary basis. The ECDF naturally offers excellent opportunities to network with colleagues from other fields. This allows us to look at problems holistically," explains Balzer. In teaching, Balzer also wants to focus on interdisciplinarity and train students in medical informatics. Balzer is also co-initiator of the Digital Urban Center for Aging and Health (DUCAH), a new research center at the interface of digitization, urbanization and health.