Tailor-made therapy

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NeuroTransData specialises in the standardised digital compilation of patient data. Dr Arnfin Bergmann, general manager of ­NeuroTransData, knows how to win the trust of patients and why data warehouses are the way to the future for every company.

Text: Tina Fassbind | Images: Moritz Hoffmann | Magazine: Trust in the Digital Age – December 2017

Dr Bergmann, patients’ medical records are a particularly touchy issue. Nonetheless, NeuroTransData (NTD) already has a huge library of those datasets. To what purpose?

With more than 600,000 patients each year, we meanwhile have built up Germany’s largest trove of data on multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Our patients can be sure that we collect, store and handle their data with the utmost care, in keeping with German and EU data protection guidelines. Patient-specific identifiers such as name, gender and age never leave the doctor’s office – we only receive anonymised medical information, which we collect via our central server and then assign a discreet four-digit alphanumeric for storage and retrieval purposes. But just as important as the data security aspect is making sure that each patient clearly understands the ultimate benefit they can gain from this database. This is because collecting the relevant information takes time, and the patients need to be willing to make the effort.

And what benefit might that be?

The participating physician can use our system to draw on vast datasets relating to previous treatments and therapeutic approaches. With this input, the doctor can generate a precisely tailored ranking of medications suitable for treating the specific ailment. Physicians can then determine the most effective therapeutic method for each of their patients, as validated by “real-world data”.

Dr med. Arnfin Bergmann is a specialist in neurology. He earned his degree in human medicine from the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in 1986 and went on to study psychiatry in Zurich, Bern and Ulm. In 1989, he finished his training in psychotherapy and neurology in Munich. Since 1995, the founder of NeuroTransData has had his own practice in Neuburg an der Donau in Germany.

Do you have confidence that the patient details are being recorded properly in the system, or are there digital checks and balances in place to verify the data?

The medical data are compiled in the healthcare practice by doctors and technicians who have successfully completed a course at our facilities and participate in ongoing training sessions. In addition, our system validates the recorded data in adherence with a catalogue of criteria. In the event of a false entry, the relevant healthcare practice is notified automatically and corrective measures can be taken.

“Comprehensive data compendia enable companies to improve their products – that also applies to medical treatment methods.”

How can you be sure that the practices themselves are trustworthy?

Joining NTD is only possible if a practice is ISO-certified, fulfils certain criteria and has been proposed by one of our members. Aside from that, the applicant is subject to a six-month probationary period before being finally accepted. Even after they join, the practices are audited and recertified annually by an external examiner. With us, the aphorism “Once in, always in” doesn’t apply.

NeuroTransData (NTD) was founded on 1 February 2008 and today has 153 physicians and 78 practices in its circle of partners. The goal of NTD is to compile data on physician’s treatment methods in a standardised fashion, thereby documenting the long-term progress of patients as well as the effects of medications and therapies, and enabling comparisons to be made with similar cases. Information in the NTD database covers disease classes like multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, depression, migraine, motoric diseases (e.g. Morbus Parkinson) and schizophrenia.


How important for the future are ­datapools like yours?

They’re of tremendous importance. Comprehensive data compendia enable all physicians to remain objective when assessing and ultimately improving the quality of their patient treatments. With algorithms such as our “PHREND®”, legitimacies can be derived by adeptly applying a select set of target parameters.

How do you know that NTD is collecting truly relevant data?

We work closely with scores of physicians and our collaboration processes are being improved continuously. That’s why we know precisely which data is meaningful for our system and thus for the betterment of patients. We’re essentially our own research institute and are constantly evolving. In everything we do, the wellbeing of the patient is the number-one priority and our driving force.

Dr. Arnfin Bergmann
Short questions – short answers

Which app is your favourite?

Can you still remember your first mobile phone? Which model was it?
A Sony Ericsson flip phone.

What kind of wallpaper do you have on your laptop?
The standard Windows images that continuously alternate.