Together for the Future: Patient Representatives at the Perspective Forum of the German Future Prize

At the suggestion of the German Centers for Health Research (DZG), we, Mrs. Lieselotte Klotz (member of the DZNE Patient Advisory Board, member of the "Living with Dementia" Advisory Board DAlzG, Alzheimer Europe, EWGPWD) and Mr. Johannes Förner (member of the DKFZ Patient Advisory Board and member of the DZG-wide Working Group on Patient Involvement), were sent by the Federal President's Office as knowledgeable patient representatives to the Perspective Forum as part of the German Future Prize. The event, themed "AI in Medicine - Opportunities and Challenges," took place on March 19, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the House of Bavarian Economy in Munich.

Panel discussion on AI in healthcare at the PerspektivForum of the German Future Prize 2024. © Screenshot:

The aim of the event was particularly to foster exchange and networking among the nominees and laureates from the healthcare sector of the German Future Prize with young people – students, apprentices, nursing students, as well as alumni of Youth Research and other representatives from academic and economic life. The event was moderated by Ms. Yve Fehring (ZDF), who also hosted the award ceremony for the German Future Prize 2023.

The German Future Prize annually honors outstanding technical, engineering, or scientific innovations, as well as software and algorithm-based innovations, which, in addition to scientific achievement, are characterized by the market viability of the products, their potential to create jobs, and their contribution to societal transformation. Information about the Future Prize and previous laureates can be found on the German Future Prize homepage. The invitation from the Federal President's Office emphasizes the importance of collaboration between patient representatives and researchers, medical professionals, pharmaceutical industry representatives, government officials, policymakers, and healthcare professionals such as nurses, therapists, and social workers.

Our participation offered a unique opportunity to bring patients' perspectives into the debate about innovative technologies in medical research and to represent the voice of those affected in this important forum. The significance of this exchange and networking is immense. Through collaboration, new insights can be gained, barriers overcome, and innovative solutions developed together. As an introduction to the topic, Prof. Fabian Theis from the Helmholtz Munich Computational Health Center presented his research approach on the use of AI in data-based medicine. The panel discussion "AI in Healthcare – Opportunities and Challenges" brought together laureates and experts to discuss various aspects of AI in research, medicine, and care. In the afternoon, all participants met in working groups to actively work together on diverse topics and projects. The results of these working groups clearly highlighted that AI presents different opportunities and challenges for each of the target groups (users, patients, and researchers) that must be considered.

Lieselotte Klotz:
"The PerspectiveForum radiated an incredible spirit! Hope and enthusiasm were the core feelings, but also incomprehension as to why AI is so underutilized and underused in healthcare. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), for example, plays an important role in therapy with Lecanemab. We see the low-field MRI platform developed by Prof. Dr. Uder, Dr. Grodzki, and Dr. Biber as a key innovation in medical imaging. This new technology offers a cost-effective, accessible, and reliable alternative to conventional MRI technology. Concrete benefits include improved early detection, person-centered treatment of dementia diseases, reduction of physical strain through fewer incorrect diagnoses, and improved therapy and treatment concepts. This gives hope for a better future for those affected and their loved ones."

Johannes Förner:
"Active patient involvement advances our healthcare system and leads to better outcomes for patients, just as the progressive use of AI does. AI means both the further development of previously successful medical technology and the expansion of this technology with new, groundbreaking approaches. The benefits are clear: newer, better, faster, and more accurate diagnostic and therapeutic options, as well as relieving medical professionals from routine tasks, allowing for a more intense focus on patients with personalized approaches in diagnosis and therapy."

Our conclusion: The participation of patient representatives at the Perspective Forum of the German Future Prize is another important step towards more participation, inclusion, and a better future in healthcare. A heartfelt "thank you" to the organizers and the patron of this very important event!

Germany, 03/05/2024 Lieselotte Klotz & Johannes Förner