3B Scientific anatomical models: The challenge of the health sector is its complexity. © Felix Brüggemann

Health - for the good of all

The health industry is one of the largest sectors of the German economy. As a powerhouse of innovation and a major employer it is a key driver of the country’s economic growth. But there is one thing in particular that it creates: quality of life.

The health industry currently provides jobs for one-seventh of the country’s workforce and this share is expected to rise even further. The BDI and its members have been supporting this development for decades. The reward is the current unprecedented demand for German pharmaceutical products and medical technology worldwide. According to a recent study of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 14 percent of all German pharmaceutical exports and 18 percent of all German medical technology exports go the United States, which is thus an important target market. The resulting sales and revenue figures enable increased spending on research and development. In consequence, personnel requirements are growing and this is putting positive pressure on schools, universities and research. These developments bring with them not only further quality improvements in the health industry but also a significant improvement in the economy as a whole and hence an increase in growth and affluence: these are the decidedly positive side effects of all the gains in this fundamentally important sector.

In personalised or stratified medicine the aim is to treat each patient not simply on the basis of a functional disease diagnosis but in the light of their individual circumstances. It also involves the continuous adjustment of treatment to the recovery process. In this approach science and technology go hand in hand with psychology and humanity.

Personalised medicine is of particular therapeutic significance in oncology (cancer research). By using effective mutation tests it has become possible to tell in advance whether the patient will respond to a particular treatment. Interdisciplinary cooperation between experts in various fields – doctors, clinical oncologists, biologists, software engineers – is essential for the success of treatments involving such molecular precision. Other crucial elements are vast know-how and the willingness and capacity to innovate – the very factors that underpin Germany’s strength as an industrial location.

The challenge of the health industry is its complexity. Simple causal connections are rare: this makes it all the more important that we provide as much scope for medical and technical progress as possible so that we can continuously improve people’s lives. Policymakers need to create an enabling environment and hence planning and investment certainty.