HiGHmed started as a large-scale medical informatics project aiming to increase the accessibility of medical patient data for clinical research, education and health care.
The HiGHmed Consortium is participating in a national funding program called “Medical Informatics Initiative” which was announced by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2015. The funding program aims to foster improved digitalization in the medical field by facilitating the exchange and sharing of data between research communities and healthcare providers through innovative IT-solutions.
After an initial conceptual phase, the founding members of the HiGHmed Consortium, the University Hospital Heidelberg, the University Medicine Göttingen and the Hannover Medical School, received funding for the Development and Networking Phase (2018 –2022) of the program. At the start of the phase in 2018, five additional university hospitals joined the project: the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the University Hospital Cologne, the University Hospital Würzburg, the Münster University Hospital and the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein. In 2020, the Carl-Thiem-Klinikum Cottbus was the first hospital to become a member of the HiGHmed Consortium as networking partner.
To this date, the project combines the know-how of eight university hospitals and medical faculties, as well as other academic and industrial partners. This is applied in prototypical clinical use cases in oncology, cardiology, and infection control. In the upcoming Consolidation and Further Development Phase (2023 –2026) of the program, it will be decided which successful IT solutions can be applied on a broader scale.
It quickly became apparent that the combined expertise of the HiGHmed Consortium´s members and partners all working together should be leveraged beyond the delivery of the project.
Therefore in 2020, the HiGHmed e.V. was founded as registered association and supported by all clinical partners of the HiGHmed Consortium. The HiGHmed Association establishes strategic cooperations with institutions from different areas, including the scientific, political, and industrial sector and develops concepts for the extension of HiGHmed's existing research focus. In addition to providing central services for the HiGHmed Consortium, the association supports the governance, coordination and implementation of further research initiatives and projects within the HiGHmed ecosystem. Consulting services, as well as operational and strategic support is provided by the association for a variety of projects.
The first project the HiGHmed Association started supporting in 2020 is a central database and research data portal of the government funded network university medicine (Netzwerk Universitätsmedizin - NUM). The Covid-19 Data Exchange Platform (CODEX) project aims to establish a central, secure, and interoperable data platform for research results on COVID-19. As the technological core of the central components of the project was developed within HiGHmed, the association is in charge of the Technical Project Management Office of CODEX. IT infrastructure which was developed as part of the HiGHmed Consortium has now been established on all CODEX sites. The developed platform will coordinate and standardize the currently still decentralized and inconsistent collection, storage and provision of research data at university hospitals nationwide and thus make highly up-to-date research results on COVID-19 available in a centralized and timely manner.
In 2022, the HiGHmed Association will take over the operational responsibility for the central components of the created NUM routine data platform which will be further developed progressively.
HiGHmed is currently preparing for the upcoming Consolidation and Further Development Phase (2023 –2026) of the BMBF funding program. The HiGHmed Association together with the HiGHmed Consortium team will play a central role in the development of the required concept.
Together, we will advance our organisational structure and shape the future of HiGHmed.