For strong partnerships between startups and health insurers

Judith Hillen


Young founders who develop digital applications in the health sector often experience how challenging it is to bring these solutions into the health care system by means of health insurance companies. GWQ can be a partner for startups here: The "Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftlichkeit und Qualität bei Krankenkassen" (Society for Efficiency and Quality in Health Insurance Funds), which has been a sponsor of 5-HT since January, provides various services for currently 76 health insurance funds. The focus here is especially on digital innovation.

In an interview with 5-HT, Anita Guth, Head of Region South at GWQ, and Hendrik Homeyer, Consultant Region South, explain how GWQ and 5-HT's network can mutually enrich each other - and why it is worthwhile for startups to enter the statutory health insurance market via GWQ.

GWQ is our new partner and exhibitor at the eHealth Symposium
GWQ is our new partner and exhibitor at the eHealth Symposium

Who is the GWQ?

Anita Guth: We are a service company founded by company health insurance funds and aimed at medium-sized health insurance funds. We currently represent a total of 76 shareholder and customer health insurance funds. This means we represent about 16 million insured persons in Germany. Our goal is to offer innovative solutions to improve the efficiency and quality of care to insured persons through the health insurance funds.

What services does GWQ offer for health insurance funds?

Anita Guth: Our range of services covers many different areas. One major topic is purchasing: we form a purchasing association for the procurement of medicines and medical aids, and we are also active in the area of supply management with nationwide and regional supply offers and provide services in the areas of data management and analytics.

Hendrik Homeyer: Other topics are, for example, rehabilitation offers, general practitioner centred care (HzV) and subsidy management. In addition, we are intensively engaged in innovative digital offers that we provide to the health insurance funds so that they can make these offers available to their insured persons.

Anita Guth, Head of the Southern Region at GWQ
Anita Guth, Head of the Southern Region at GWQ

What is your focus with these innovative digital offerings?

Hendrik Homeyer: Analogous to standard care, we offer a selectively contracted range of mobile apps. For this purpose, we contract health apps that have not yet been listed as a digital health application (DiGA) by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) in order to make them available to health insurers for insured persons. We see that the demand for such digital offerings is steadily increasing.

Anita Guth: In addition, we are further developing our existing selective-contract offers and supplementing them with digital components. This is not about "app only" solutions, but about care concepts with the participation of service providers.

Why do GWQ and 5-HT go so well together?

Anita Guth: There are many startups in the 5-HT network that are developing interesting digital applications for the health sector. We are currently working on expanding our product portfolio in the pharmaceutical sector with the help of digital components. For example, this could involve solutions for drug therapy safety. With 5-HT, we now want to approach this topic in a more targeted way, so that 5-HT supports us in finding out which innovative trends are to be expected for the pharmaceutical market and with which startups a cooperation would be attractive for us. We are interested in young companies that have developed a medical product and already have a high level of market maturity.

Hendrik Homeyer: At the same time, we would also like to contribute our expertise to 5-HT. We have noticed that there are already many pharmaceutical companies and startups from the digital health sector in the 5-HT network. We see our experience in the SHI market as a good addition here.

Hendrik Homeyer, Consultant Region South at GWQ
Hendrik Homeyer, Consultant Region South at GWQ

What are the advantages for startups of working directly with GWQ rather than with individual health insurance funds?

Hendrik Homeyer: Of course, each startup has to decide for itself. We know from startups with which we already cooperate that they very much appreciate having a contact person to a large cash register association. We see ourselves as the first point of contact for startups in order to use synergy effects and to jointly make the market entry, which is often difficult for startups, easier.

Anita Guth: Due to our many years of experience in the selective contract business, we know which requirements have to be fulfilled in order to work out and conclude a contract that is advantageous for all parties in order to sustainably improve the medical care of the insured. The startups that work with us can only benefit from this. In addition, we are also happy to act as mentors when startups from the 5-HT network want support and advice on the topic of statutory health insurance.

Since January 2021, you have been one of the sponsors of 5-HT. What was the motivation for you to do this?

Anita Guth: We want to approach startup scouting in a more targeted way in order to be able to provide our health insurers with the best possible range of care. 5-HT's range of services in this area convinced us.

Hendrik Homeyer: For us, it is particularly interesting to get to know startups at an early stage and thus be one step faster than others. We like to engage with innovative ideas at an early stage.

On 27 January, you will be an exhibitor at the eHealth Symposium, which 5-HT is organising together with other partners. Why are you participating in this event?

Anita Guth: Our goal is to raise GWQ's profile as a contact for startups with experience in the SHI market and to contribute our expertise in the innovative, digital eHealth sector. We are looking forward to the symposium and many interesting exchanges.

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