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Executive Department for
Press, Communication and Marketing

Adolf-Reichwein-Straße 2a
Gebäude AVZ (Gebäudeteil AR-NA)
57068 Siegen

Phone:    +49 (0)271/740-4915
Fax.:    +49 (0)271/740-4911
E-Mail:  presse@uni-siegen.de

Investing in Future Medicine

Sparkasse and the University of Siegen announce two projects for the improvement of medical and financial primary care in the region.

Sparkasse Siegen and the University of Siegen are strengthening their involvement in the region. Together, Wilfried Groos (Chairman of the Board of Sparkasse) and Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart (Rector of the University) plan two projects to expand the medical and financial services for the rural population through digital media and technologies. The two award-winning projects DIPRA and INTEGER will be embedded in the nationwide project "Rethinking Medicine".

In March 2018, the university created the DIVE competition ("Digitally Supported Medical and Financial Aid for the Rural Population"). The funding volume amounts to a total of 150,000 euros, provided by Sparkasse Siegen. In a selection process involving the Senate Commission for International Affairs and Cooperation, the Senate Commission for Research and Young Researchers, the Sparkasse Siegen and the university management, the decision was made on two projects.

Prof. Dr. Ing. Dr. Björn Niehaves (Research College of the University of Siegen) and dr. Dr. med. Charles Christian Adarkwah (Familydocs, General Practice, Kreuztal) stand behind the DIPRA project ("Exploring and Designing Digital Practices to Improve Rural Supply") as a tandem. The aim of the project is to show new possibilities regarding digitization to medical practices in the region. For this purpose, processes in day-to-day business between physicians and patients should be comprehensively analyzed in order to then develop suitable technologies. For example, health data could be collected on the move and digitally transmitted to treating physicians to enable short-term intervention in the event of a critical condition. Even rehab exercises could be more effectively supported by digital technology. The aim is to create a "modular system" of digital solutions for the use of medical practitioners from a wide range of medical disciplines. The local doctor’s practices in the region could thus noticeably improve their everyday procedure and care by using digital medical solutions.

For the second project Prof. Dr. Holger Schönherr (Department of Chemistry and Biology, Faculty IV of the University of Siegen) and PD Dr. Erwin Thiel (ERT Optics, Siegen) are responsible. INTEGER stands for "Integrated Digital Diagnostics with Smart Sensor Materials for Rural Supply". In the project, a sensory bandage will be developed, which indicates a bacterial infection by a color change under UV exposure. Through the application of state-of-the-art biochemical sensor materials, fiber-optics technology and data transmission, an integrated digital diagnostic will be realized in the medium term, the results of which patients, nurses and doctors can also see from a distance. Patients would then no longer necessarily have to visit a doctor's office to have a wound examined - the wound could be continuously monitored by the smart bandage and the data collected made available to the doctor's office. Such integrated diagnostics could be expanded in the future and thus ensure early detection of diseases even before acute symptoms occur. The project provides a concrete prototype with the sensory bandage. According to this model, intelligent sensors could, for example, also monitor blood sugar levels in the future - reliably and fully integrated into people's everyday lives.

The topic of areal supply preoccupies the medical professionals as well as the Sparkasse. As a result of demographic change, rural populations are aging and becoming less mobile. At the same time, demand for digital offers is also increasing at Sparkasse. These should be as intuitive as possible so that people of all ages can use them. The Sparkasse, too, is therefore constantly working on new connections to the customer. "As a regionally rooted institute, we are also committed to people in the area," said Wilfried Groos. "Our public mission is to provide the population with financial services and cash. However, we need to rethink this mission in demographically altered and digitalized space. At the same time, the DNA of Sparkasse, which is what makes up our core, must not be lost, but must be reinterpreted. That's why we're constantly working on new solutions, such as our cash-delivery offer or service chat, where our employees are opening new avenues to the customer. In exchange with the local university, we can gain new insight into how we can further develop these solutions and how we can best meet our supply mandate in the future as well."

"With our project, 'Rethinking Medicine' we want to ensure medical care in the country-side - digitally supported, but practiced by humans. The two winning projects are wonderful examples of how innovative technology can improve the daily lives of physicians and patients," said Prof. Dr. med. Holger Burckhart.

Wilfried Groos: "The award-winning projects can help to make medical offers location-independent and to develop low-threshold digital solutions. While the first project focuses on, and analyzes, the needs of physicians, the second project will develop solutions. This creates exciting synergy effects that we would like to continue to support as part of a value creation chain in the form of a donation - for practical implementation. In the area of digital medical technology, there are great opportunities, for example, for startups and thus ultimately for the creation of new jobs in the region."

With its donation, Sparkasse Siegen supports a third initiative of the package project, which will be carried out as a model with the Kreisklinikum Siegen, within the hospital network of the four Siegen hospitals. At the center of this project is a clinical and medical supply chain consisting of four interlocking members, which is to be modeled and tested for patients with neurodegenerative diseases: Based on the patient, first of all, a local community care center is to be developed. Secondly, this is connected to the medical care center of a clinic, which, in the third step, is linked to the specialist department of a clinic. As the fourth member of the project, in the case at hand, the high-performance medicine of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the University Hospital Bonn are available. This would benefit the patient in the countryside with clinical and medical care at the highest level.