Germany’s exuberant health minister Jens Spahn is unlikely to stay in post after the country’s elections in September. People in the market say that his likely successors are less progressive, innovative and charismatic, which could end the streak of some of the boldest healthcare reforms we’ve ever seen. That could have repercussions across Europe.
His incumbent party CDU looks set to remain in power, likely in coalition with the Greens and a new leader at the helm in Armin Laschet. Spahn backed Laschet and has been elected one of his deputies, and has made clear that for this election, at least, he’s not going to run for Chancellor but will rather become deputy chairman. He has just been voted Germany’s most popular politician.
That ambition likely means a promotion and a move away from the health ministry. During his tenure, he set digitalisation of healthcare as a significant priority. That has led to laws that now allow health apps to be reimbursement as a prescription, the first of its kind in Europe, given €3bn to hospitals to invest in digital infrastructures, made electronic patient records mandatory, among other initiatives, as well as wider reforms in long-term care.
Many other European countries have looked to Germany as a model for digitalising their own healthcare systems. Netherlands and Belgium followed suit in reimbursing digital therapeutics and movement at the patient record level has even pushed Europe into thinking about storing and analysing big data.
No other politician yet stands out as a worthy candidate, people in Germany say. Meaning that the country, and Europe, stand to lose a lot of inspiration for daring and experimental healthcare reforms.We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Rachel Lewis or call 0207 183 3779.