Reimbursement of Digital Health Applications in Europe #HealthTechCharter

January 27, 2022

With the HealthTech Charter officially launched, Allied for Startups DTx is starting a series spotlighting best practises in digital health innovation in Europe. Join us as we dive deep into what works according to healthtech entrepreneurs – but more importantly, what we need more of for digital health to thrive in Europe! 

Through data-based treatment decisions, empowered patients and providers, and lower overall costs – the digital health revolution is rapidly expanding across the medical field. However, a key barrier to the wider adoption of digital therapies and telehealth solutions is the lack of standardised pathways to reimbursement and prescription across European healthcare systems. Digital health entrepreneurs have to navigate complicated funding pathways at the national, regional, local or even hospital level – and in some cases, reimbursement is not possible at all. According to Xavier, Founder of Psious, a startup working in virtual reality for mental health treatment, “The payment and reimbursement path is essential for companies to really scale, become world leaders, and reach patients at scale.”

Identifying the best examples of reimbursement schemes within Europe and adopting similar practises across borders is a big step towards overcoming this hurdle. The HealthTech Charter spotlights two empowering reimbursement schemes in European Member States – The German Digital Health Law (DiGA) and the mHealthBelgium platform. 

The German DiGA paves a way for digital health applications to be prescribed and reimbursed within the German public health system. The law allows doctors to prescribe approved digital health apps to their patients, just as they prescribe medications today, and simultaneously allows entrepreneurs to be reimbursed by statutory health insurance for their applications. The DiGA offers a straightforward pathway to patients worldwide, as the inclusion of an app on the DiGA Directory equates to the prescription and reimbursement of this tool in the German market. According to Sophie and Elliot, Founders of Velmio, a pregnancy tracking app, “A predictable set of rules on market entry and a transparent reimbursement mechanism, combined with growing market demand for digital health, currently allows us to work on a new, more ambitious product offering designed from the ground up to be used as a prescription-only solution.”

The mHealthBelgium platform aims to integrate mobile health applications into the Belgian healthcare system with the overall goal of fostering affordable and better care and enabling validated health apps to be reimbursed by the Belgian Social Security. This public-private initiative classifies CE-marked health applications according to a three-tiered system that centralises information on digital health apps for patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare institutions to access on one single platform. Brice, CEO at Comunicare, a startup for patients to provide data analytics to care providers, describes the platform as “…key to building trust from users and the public, and puts the spotlight on relevant solutions – paving the way for more personalised, predictive, participatory and preventive healthcare.”

Building a stronger European Health Union rests on creating inclusive policies that support innovation. Developing uniform reimbursement schemes for digital health applications will empower life-changing tools to enter European markets faster and more efficiently, thereby improving health outcomes for the future. We urge European policy makers and governments to take a look at the German DiGA and mHealthBelgium platform – best practises that European innovators have identified – as examples of reimbursement systems that work. Let’s push the conversation forward as we continue building Europe into a leading hub for digital health innovation. 

Interested in having a conversation or collaborating in the HealthTech Charter project? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us here!