Digital Health tackles colon cancer: A preventable threat

Every year, approximately 60,000 people in Germany are newly diagnosed with colon cancer. In Germany, colon cancer ranks as the third most common cancer among men and the second most common among women. It is also a leading cause of cancer-related deaths here, claiming 23,000 lives each year. Tragically, most of these deaths could likely be prevented by an effective screening programme.  

Approximately 90% of colon cancers originate from initially benign intestinal polyps but the transformation from intestinal polyp to cancer can take several years. Screening programmes help to identify these polyps early in this cycle, before they become cancerous. This allows for more effective and efficient treatment and greatly improved health outcomes.   

Why do so many people still die from colon cancer? 

But why do more than 23,000 people still die of colon cancer in Germany every year? Germany has offered a structured colonoscopy cancer screening program by health insurers since 2002. Nevertheless, screening rates are alarmingly low. This can largely be explained because patients still experience high barriers: Complicated appointments and processes, long waiting times for screening appointments, negative feelings towards colonoscopy. 

Digital solutions: A key to preventive care 

Digital solutions can make a significant contribution to improving early detection and treatment. Prof. Dr. Joachim Labenz, Chief Physician of Internal Medicine for over 25 years: “The prevention of colon cancer is our highest goal. But the way things are currently going, I find it insufficient. Digital concepts can help increase participation rates.” 

Learning from the Netherlands: Increase participation rates 

To enhance early detection rates, Germany can draw lessons from the experiences of other nations. The Netherlands already achieves participation rates of up to 70%. Prof. Dr. Joachim Labenz believes similar participation rates are possible in Germany: “If we achieve over 50%, that would be a great success. The goal is realistic, many countries have already achieved it”.   

The innovative Solution by DasLab 

How can Germany achieve such dramatic improvements in participation rates? DasLab’s digital insurance journey for colon cancer screening is an example of the innovation required. “The path to screening is currently complicated for patients in Germany. That is why we have rethought the process and created an innovative, low-friction and, above all, user-friendly solution,” says Dr. Daniel Fallscheer, co-founder and CEO of DasLab. Together with health insurers, telemedicine providers, and laboratories, DasLab is developing a low-friction process for screening. It allows insured and enrolled  individuals to have an iFOBT stool test conveniently sent to their home. The test takes only five minutes to perform and the sample is sent directly to the laboratory. If the result is positive, the patient  is not left alone or anxious, but can discuss the next steps with a telemedicine specialist in a timely manner – even on weekends. TeleClinic, ZAVA, and Amedes are already on board.Together, TeleClinic and DasLab want to transform early detection in Germany. “Our mission at TeleClinic is already to improve access to healthcare using digital solutions. In partnership with DasLab, we are now going one step further by establishing a digital and easily accessible screening service for early detection services in Germany.” Other partners from insurance, telemedicine, and laboratory will also join DasLab’s screening program soon. 

The Future of Healthcare in Germany 

The future presents the healthcare system in Germany with great challenges but also great opportunities. Increased use of digital solutions and better networking of healthcare players can improve patient care and reduce costs; Prof. Dr. Joachim Labenz: “We need to reform laws so that digitalization can take place in healthcare. Digital structures must always aim to be an improvement for patients and users. And that is, for example, saving time.” 

How it works: 

Eligible patients receive information from their health insurer or can order a sampling kit directly from partner TeleClinic. 

The kit is conveniently delivered, pre-franked, and discreetly packaged to your mailbox, complete with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. The collected sample can be sent directly to an accredited partner laboratory. 

After the samples have been evaluated, the patient:s receive the digital laboratory findings in real time. 

Thanks to a transparent, digital process, patients are always informed about the order, dispatch and receipt confirmation of the laboratory sample and the availability of the laboratory findings. The laboratory report consists of an easy-to-understand summary of the test results, the test method and also offers the option of downloading the test results. Patients can thus share the results with their treating physicians at any time or discuss the test results in the video consultation. 

TeleClinic offers patients video consultations within minutes of receiving their lab results. 

This means that patients are not left alone with conspicuous results 24/7, for example even on Friday afternoons, but receive immediate advice from experienced physicians. 

Shaping the future 

Colon cancer screening is a critical component of preventive medicine, and digital solutions are playing an increasingly important role in protecting the health of the population and saving lives. It is up to us to seize these opportunities and shape the future of healthcare in Germany. DasLab, Teleclinic and other partners are already working on further screening services for prostate cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. And that is just the beginning. 

About DasLab: 

70% of all medical decisions are based on lab results, yet the medical diagnostics ecosystem remains fragmented and inconsistent. DasLab is developing a digital laboratory infrastructure and interoperability platform for medical diagnostics. With a vision of a healthier world, DasLab enables seamless data sharing for smart, personalized and sustainable healthcare for all. The DasLab platform supports all types of medical tests and seamlessly connects healthcare providers with laboratories, patients and insurers. 


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