• Doctor's Office Interpreters

    Innovations at the Interface Between Business Science and Health

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    Patient translators: Junior physicians Anja Bittner, Ansgar Jonietz and Johannes Bittner (from left) translate medical diagnoses into more understandable language for laypeople. About a thousand physicians already participate in the online portal at www.washabich.de.

The Bayer Cares Foundation supports social innovation, for example at the interface between patients and the health care sector. A student initiative called “What have I got?” won the Audience Prize in the 2014 Aspirin Social Award and placed second overall. It is a free service that translates medical terms into comprehensible, everyday language.

Employee Volunteering

The Bayer Cares Foundation is also active in human resources development: “Three Bayer employees will each fly to different continents for three months in 2014 to participate in social projects and look for new answers to unsolved problems,” says Thimo Valentin Schmitt-Lord, Chairman of the Bayer Foundations. Their destinations are in developing countries where there is a demand for health education and medical care. For example, Bayer is launching a project in the Philippines to rebuild the country’s destroyed health care infrastructure, and a Bayer Business Consulting employee will be there to provide assistance locally.

The results are sobering: according to studies, most patients have forgotten 80 percent of what their doctor said by the time they leave the office. Since January 2011, a group of dedicated young doctors headed by Anja and Johannes Bittner and Ansgar Jonietz has been working to resolve this situation: At their online portal www.washabich.de, patients can enter their medical results in text form, upload a file or send a fax. A few days later they receive a text that a layperson can better understand – protected by password, discrete and free of charge. “What have I got?” is funded mainly by donations, sponsors and financial awards like the Aspirin Social Award’s Audience Prize. “The prize money helps us to translate medical terminology into standard German,” explains Anja Bittner.

The prize money helps us to translate medical terminology into standard German,” explains Anja Bittner.

Most patients have forgotten

80 percent

of the doctor’s statements when leaving the office.

A patient with shoulder pain, for example, who undergoes an MRI and gets a diagnosis that reads “cortical depression of the humeral head,” learns that the hard, outer layer of bone (referred to medically as the cortical bone) on the top of his upper arm bone (the head of the humerus) is indented. Furthermore, he receives a clear explanation of what an MRI is capable of visualizing, how the shoulder joint is structured and a diagram of aspects relevant to his case. “A complete translation takes about five hours,” Bittner says. A thousand physicians are now involved in the program, of whom about 200 actively participate in the translation work. All of them were first trained in how to communicate more effectively with the lay population, something that benefits their everyday work with their own patients as well.

But “What have I got?” is not the only initiative that aims to benefit patients through new social programs. First place in the Aspirin Social Award went to the mobile telephone app “Explain TB.” This free service from the Borstel Research Center teaches patients and their families about their disease. Tuberculosis is a life-threatening disease of the poor that infects half a million people every year in Europe alone, including many children and the illiterate. Half of all TB patients in Germany come from countries outside Europe. The “Discovering Hands” initiative is dedicated to another disease: blind and visually impaired people are taught how to physically detect breast cancer for the purpose of early diagnosis and trained to be physical examiners. This innovative concept aims to help break down prejudices against people with physical disabilities and promote respect for their superior sense of touch.

Chemist in Training at the Bayer Laboratory

After earning his master’s degree in chemistry, Sebastian Keess spent five months in Chemical Development at Bayer HealthCare. We spoke with the 25-year-old Bayer “Deutschland” scholarship-winner about his experience.

Chemiker auf Probe im Bayer-Labor

Industrial experience: Bayer scholarship-winner Sebastian Keess (center) talks with Timo V. Schmitt-Lord (left) and laboratory head Dr. Daniel Götz (right) about his work in Global Drug Discovery at Bayer HealthCare in Wuppertal.

Interview: Sebastian Keeß

Sebastian Keess

Chemist in Training at the Bayer Laboratory

After earning his master’s degree in chemistry, Sebastian Keess spent five months in Chemical Development at Bayer HealthCare. We spoke with the 25-year-old Bayer “Deutschland” scholarship-winner about his experience.

What fascinates you about chemistry?

First and foremost the possibility of transforming molecules into substances with entirely different properties, and thereby helping to solve some of the greatest challenges of our age.

What were your responsibilities working as an intern at Bayer HealthCare?

I worked for Global Drug Discovery on the chemical and pharmaceutical development of new drugs. My main job was to study efficient chemical synthesis processes for potential active substances and to optimize their production sequences.

How did you benefit from the scholarship?

I used the money at the university primarily to buy chemicals. The experience I gained from application-oriented research at Bayer opened up entirely new prospects for me: my experiences in the lab will definitely help me make decisions about my future career. But first I would like to earn my PhD the classical way, at the Berlin University of Technology, and then go abroad for a while. After that it will be time to decide between a career in industry or academia.