“Digital Head“ Sylvia Thun comes to Berlin

In order for medical- and research data to help in the diagnosis of diseases and the healing of patients, this data must be matched and cross-linked with real-time patient data. At BIH, Professor Sylvia Thun will begin immediately to address this cross-linkage of data. She will develop the unit “eHealth and Interoperability” at BIH. Her field of specialization is intersectoral networking. Clinics and hospitals, medical practices, and laboratories will be connected with one another, so that the fast, secure, and fault-free exchange of data is possible. Up to now, Germany has had no generally applicable strategy with regard to the use of international IT standards for data communication in the medical field. “We want to use and further develop such standards, in order to promote and improve personalized medicine at BIH, Charité and MDC, and thus make Berlin the national forerunner in medical IT standards. As a respected expert, Sylvia Thun’s know-how is an enormous gain for BIH,” stated Professor Martin Lohse, BIH Speaker and Chief Executive Officer of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). For more than 15 years, Thun has been involved with the cross-linkage of research- and healthcare data, and with overcoming the hurdles which hinder the free exchange of data. She has acted as an advisor to numerous committees of political players, and to institutions in the healthcare sector.

“I want to achieve an exchange between persons, machines, doctors, and patients – from the individual laboratory results, to radiology- and pathology findings, all the way to research data analysis,” says Sylvia Thun. This can only succeed if the data can be compared quickly, error-free, and comprehensively. This, in turn, requires a common medical terminology, the so-called syntactic and semantic interoperability of data. In order to ensure comprehensive interoperability of all interfaces at BIH and Charité, it will be Sylvia Thun’s initial goal to implement IT standards which can find overarching acceptance and application at Charité and MDC. Sylvia Thun is an advocate of the uniform medical terminology system SNOMED CT, the more widespread use of which she wishes to promote and advance in Germany, and which she hopes to establish as a uniform standard. It includes internationally favored IT standards such as HL7 FHIR and IHE, which enable secure electronic communication.

Recognized as “Digital Head”
With the recruitment of Sylvia Thun, BIH has succeeded in acquiring a nationally- and internationally recognized IT expert in the medical field. Born in Cologne in 1968, the physician has taught since 2011 as Professor for Information- and Communications Technology in Healthcare at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. She also holds the position there as Director of the eHealth Center, which was founded in 2014. Her research focuses are IT standardization, semantic interoperability, and eCommerce in the healthcare sector. Previously, Sylvia Thun was involved with terminologies and classifications, drug/medicinal product information, and interoperability between software systems in the healthcare sector, at the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) in Cologne. She has worked cooperatively on national and international projects in health telematics (eHealth), is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the mibeg Institute for Medicine, and is a lecturer at various universities. In 2014 Sylvia Thun was named one of Germany’s “Digital Head” by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Sylvia Thun now becomes Director of the unit “eHealth and Interoperability” at BIH, and will dedicate 49 per cent of her working time to that position; with the remaining 51 per cent she will continue her professorship in Information and Communications Technology at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences.

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