Future Visions of Digitized Health Services


© Reiner Zensen

The large-scale acquisition and digital availability of personal data open up entirely new horizons in medical research. The systematic processing of data relating to health, individual disposition, and lifestyle could soon pave the way for so-called precision medicine, whereby medication and therapy are customized to match individual tissue and metabolism profiles – and what is more, preventive behavioral recommendations for sports, diet, and medication should help prevent illness from even arising. All citizens would have their health data stored on their smartphones and could compile their own effective packages from a selection of health offers.

However, these fascinating opportunities for individualized healthcare provision go hand in hand with major ethical challenges. How can our highly sensitive health data be adequately protected? Who would ensure the security of healthcare apps, and thus of our privacy? Are we about to become “transparent patients”? Or will our currently solidary healthcare system ultimately even be undermined by a data-driven healthcare dictatorship?

In her lecture, Christiane Woopen sought answers to the question of how we can benefit from the opportunities of digitized healthcare services while at the same time mastering their ethical challenges.

Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen studied medicine and philosophy in Cologne, Bonn, and Hagen. At the University of Cologne she is Managing Director of the Cologne Center for Ethics, Rights, Economics, and Social Sciences of Health, which carries out inter- and transdisciplinary research and consultation, and focuses on the topics of aging and demographic change, health competence, and health and society in the digital era. As Professor of Ethics and Medical Theory, she also heads the Ethics Research Centre of the Medical Faculty, where she is also Vice-Dean for Academic Development and Gender. From 2012 to 2016 she was Chair of the German Ethics Council and from 2014 to 2016 President of the 11th Global Summit of National Ethics Committees. In addition to numerous scientific advisory boards, Christiane Woopen is a member of the UNESCO International Ethics Committee and, since April 2017, of the European Group on Science and New Technologies, which advises the EU Commission.

34th Bertha Benz Lecture

Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen
European Group on Science and New Technologies

June 01, 2017
Research and Development Center, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, Heidelberg