03.05.2022 / Case

Political communication on the value of health data for private research



Company size

Around 4,000 employees in Germany

Project period


Consulting field

Public Affairs



The digitisation of the healthcare system is in full swing. Digital platforms and services such as the electronic patient record (ePA) or the e-prescription (eRezept) are intended to improve healthcare. A central topic here is health data.

All stakeholders agree on one thing: data is the key to improving healthcare. But there is still disagreement on how to deal with health data: from data protection, to the quality and interoperability of data, to its use for research purposes. A key factor for healthcare companies is that according to current legislation, private research institutions do not have access to data from research data centres, where so-called real-world data from the healthcare sector are to be collected. They are of great value to the research and development of innovative therapies because they reflect the reality of healthcare.

The communicative task was to address this unused research potential with political decision-makers as well as civil society.


Together with the client, SKM first analysed the political situation and the stakeholder environment. This included the positions of political parties, relevant members of parliament and other associations, as well as a comprehensive review of media coverage on the handling of health data. It quickly became clear that there were some advocates – both in politics and civil society, as well as on behalf of some associations – for legal equality of private research institutions to access relevant data, subject to a corresponding application procedure.


Based on this analysis, SKM then developed a communications strategy with a comprehensive package of measures to help with the political positioning of the client. The aim was to make clear, both to the political target groups and in public discourse, how important it is for private research institutions to have access to relevant data sources in order to improve healthcare in Germany. One aspect of this was the 2021 federal election, which was seen as an opportunity to draw attention to the issue before the new government set its political priorities. The measures included, among others:

  • Communicative preparation and support of an event format on the topic of health data
  • Conception and production of an animated video showing the advantages of data use for research and patients
  • Preparing the content of presentations at external events, e.g. with speech scripts, argumentation aids and Q&As
  • Ongoing social media communication for selected executives and employees
  • Development of several policy position papers on topics and the potential of data use

The issue was gaining momentum not only with our client but across the industry at large. At the end of 2021, the new government’s coalition agreement showed the first signs of success: the government recognised and addressed the key importance of health data. In addition to the planning of a data institute and a data utilisation strategy, it now also explicitly advocates better data access for public and private research institutions. Now it is a matter of offering communicative support for the implementation of these projects, for which the above-mentioned measures will be continued.


picture credits:
@Alexander Sinn