On 29 November 2019, the DGPPN organised the fourth German public event within the framework of the eMEN project in cooperation with the German Alliance for Mental Health (Aktionsbündnis Seelische Gesundheit). As last year, the eMEN conference was embedded in the annual DGPPN congress and attracted about 250 interested participants.
Against the background that digital health applications are to become reimbursable in Germany from January 2020, this public event was dedicated to the questions of which technical innovations there are in the field of mental health? And how can they best be used? Dr. Iris Hauth welcomed the participants on behalf of the DGPPN executive board. The moderator Ralph Erdenberger (WDR 5) gave an entertaining tour through the full-day programme.
The keynote speeches gave an outlook on the key technologies in psychiatry within the next 20 years (Dr. James Woollard, psychiatrist and National Consultant for Digital Mental Health of NHS England), as well as an overview of the studies on the effectiveness and status quo of e-mental health in Germany (Prof. Brigit Wagner, Medical School Berlin).
This was followed by a block on the legal and political framework of e-mental health in Germany. With AppQ, Dr. Johannes Bittner presented a core set of quality criteria for more transparency in digital health applications for the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Dr. Henrik Matthies from the health innovation hub of the German Federal Ministry of Health described the planned path for digital health applications into standard care according to the new Digital Health Care Act (§ 33a, SGB V). Afterwards, Prof. Martin H. Stellpflug, specialist lawyer for medical law, answered questions on very practical legal issues in psychotherapeutic everyday life with e-mental health.
After the lunch break, which gave opportunity on a marketplace different smaller and middle enterprises from the range e-mental health to become acquainted, followed lectures to practicing application. Dr. Peter Tonn presented an outpatient care model with the help of digital support. Prof. Ulrich Voderholzer described an e-mental health concept for inpatient care. Prof. Jürgen L. Müller reported on five different, very promising e-mental health projects in forensics. At the end of the afternoon session, six start-ups presented their innovative ideas for improving psychosocial care in three-minute presentations (BfB Labs, Psydex, Myskills, eQuoo, Mindable, GET.ON). In addition, Interapy, KeepAppy, Pulso, Minddistrict, Mindpax, Moodbuster, Selfapy, Stopblues, Therapieland B.V. & Gezondeboel, vila health, Wellola Software and 7Mind were represented on the market square. During the breaks and at the get-together that followed, the participants had the opportunity to gain initial experience in using the software, to try out the products directly on site and to talk to the providers and developers.
Late in the afternoon, another highlight was the presentation of several innovation fund projects in the area of e-mental health. The German Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) has the task of promoting new forms of health care that go beyond the current standard health care. To this end, the German government has set up an innovation fund. The aim of the innovation fund is to improve the quality of care in statutory health insurance in Germany. Four currently funded innovation fund projects were presented at the eMEN conference: "PSYCHOnlineTHERAPIE", a project to integrate online interventions into outpatient psychotherapy for patients with depressive disorders and anxiety disorders; "HELP@APP", the development and evaluation of a self-help app for traumatised Syrian refugees in Germany; "GET Sleep", a stepped care model for the treatment of sleep disorders and "OMPRIS", an online-based motivation program to reduce problematic media consumption and promote treatment motivation in people with computer game dependency and internet addiction.
Finally, the experts on the podium were asked what they considered to be essential for the successful integration of digital innovations in psychiatric and psychotherapeutic care in Germany. Of course, there were many different answers to this question, for example, there might be a need for more research in this field, also better legal security and data protection or simply more courage and curiosity among health care providers. Everyone agreed that digital innovations can be an instrument for improving the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses and that this potential must be exploited.
As at previous eMEN events, the audience consisted mainly of doctors, psychotherapists and developers. Representatives from politics, people with lived experiences and other experts were also present. The conference was organised as part of the eMEN project, which was co-financed by the EU. More information on the goals, events and partners of eMEN can be found at eMEN.
Pictures by DGPPN, Franziska Taffelt