A yes to digitalization, a no to data sharing

May 11, 2022, Nr. 22

The “TechnikRadar 2022” survey by acatech and the Körber Foundation shows the attitude toward digitalization in health care.

Home office, video conferencing, consulting a doctor on the phone – the corona pandemic has made the relevance of digitalization clear. Germans rate the benefit of digitalization higher than the risks. This is shown in the survey “TechnikRadar 2022”, which was conducted by acatech and the Körber Foundation: On a scale from 0 (no benefit at all) to 10 (great benefit), the respondents assessed the benefit of digitalization, for example in health care, with 7.5 points and the risk with just 4.6 points. Sociologist Prof. Cordula Kropp from the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies (ZIRIUS) at the University of Stuttgart is the academic project manager of the study.

In principle, Germans tend to perceive technology as a means of solving problems: While 35.5 percent of German citizens supported the statement “Technology creates more problems than it solves“ in 2017, only 23.1 percent currently do. When it comes to sharing health data, however, the Germans are cautious. For example, half of the respondents (50.1 percent) are opposed to sharing their own data with private research institutions in a personalized or anonymized form. More than 80 percent of respondents, on the other hand, would be willing to make their data available to the general practitioner, medical specialist, or hospital. In this context, a finding from the survey among 200 physicians, which is also a part of the TechnikRadar 2022 survey, seems all the more interesting: Only 13.1 percent of the physicians surveyed have knowledge of who has access to digital patient data and what data is being accessed. Five percent of respondents are already using the electronic patient record ePA, 46.8 percent plan to use it in the future, and a quarter of the respondents simply do not know that this offer exists.

Doctors enjoy great confidence 

For health problems, an increasing number of Germans first of all consult the Internet: 27.2 percent of respondents first do research on the Internet before visiting a doctor. Almost half of the respondents (45.3 percent) feel able to find answers to their health-related questions online, and 63.2 percent are of the opinion that they are able to critically assess this information. “Our study shows that: More and more people in Germany are taking health matters into their own hands. They do research on the Internet after visiting a doctor, they use health, fitness, and nutrition apps, and they consider it their own responsibility to take care of their wellbeing. This group usually has a high level of digital health literacy that supports the use of the electronic patient record and the corona app,” says the academic project manager Prof. Cordula Kropp from the University of Stuttgart.

However, the enthusiasm among physicians is rather limited in the face of this new digital health literacy. Almost a third of the respondents (30.7 percent) think that digitalization compromises the doctor-patient relationship. A majority of 59.5 of the physicians surveyed is of the opinion that patients are overwhelmed both with the use of digital services and online information and with the interpretation of this information. However, doctors continue to enjoy great confidence of their patients, especially when they make a diagnosis on the basis of many years of experience: 82.7 percent of respondents find medical diagnoses “very useful” or “rather useful”. By contrast, just under half of the respondents (45.4 percent) think that medical diagnoses from databases are useful. Finally, diagnoses based on Artificial Intelligence are viewed positively by only 27.5 percent of the people surveyed. 

About TechnikRadar 2022 

The TechnikRadar survey by acatech – the National Academy of Science and Engineering, the Körber Foundation, and the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies (ZIRIUS) at the University of Stuttgart is a nationwide survey conducted on a regular basis. It was developed according to standards from the social sciences and is evaluated using methods from empirical social research. As a long-term early warning system, it makes undesirable developments in technological change recognizable in good time or points out a particular need for communication. 

Expert Contact:

Prof. Cordula Kropp, University of Stuttgart, Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies (ZIRIUS), phone: +49 711 685 83941, E-Mail 

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