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DEMIS goes online: Fraunhofer FOKUS supports Robert Koch Institute in design and implementation of electronic laboratory messages

News from June 26, 2020

Press release - Since a few days laboratories now have the possibility to report pathogen detection of SARS-CoV-2 electronically to the responsible health authorities. The electronic notification means that the information on SARS-CoV-2 infections is faster and more completely available to the public health authorities and that infection control measures can be initiated promptly to prevent further infections. Fraunhofer FOKUS, in coordination with the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), is supporting the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in implementing the project.

Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn explains: “Thanks to the new reporting system, the health authorities are informed immediately if someone has tested positive for the corona virus. The time of faxing is finally over. Infection chains can now be traced and interrupted much faster than before. Every added hour free of danger of infection is a gain in the fight against the virus.”

The DEMIS infrastructure went online a few days ago. This has created the necessary framework for gradually connecting the approximately 170 laboratories and 400 health authorities to the system over the coming weeks. From the very beginning, the conception and development, for which Fraunhofer FOKUS was responsible in close cooperation with the RKI, focused on the expandability and future-proofing of the solution.

The scientist Olaf Rode, project manager at Fraunhofer FOKUS, emphasizes: “We work with powerful e-health standards towards a flexible solution. In particular, the demands placed on the adjustable adaptability of messages and their content made it necessary to break new ground in the design of the system. For example, HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is used in DEMIS to map the message contents. This is a novelty in the field of public health services.”

The electronic reporting of SARS-CoV-2 pathogen detection is the first stage of expansion of the “Deutschen Elektronischen Melde- und Informationssystems für den Infektionsschutz” (German electronic reporting and information system for infection protection). DEMIS is to fundamentally modernize the reporting system in accordance with the Infection Protection Act in the coming months and years. In addition to electronic reporting, cooperation between health authorities and the evaluation and provision of data will be improved.

The DEMIS-SARS-CoV-2 project was implemented by the Robert Koch Institute and the Federal Ministry of Health in cooperation with gematik and Fraunhofer FOKUS.

The health authorities and laboratories have already been informed about the next steps of the connection to DEMIS. Further expansion stages of DEMIS are to be implemented this year.