Anja Bittner (Kersten)

Ashoka Fellow
Dresden, Germany
Fellow Since 2012
Related TopicsHealth & Fitness, Health care


This profile was prepared when Anja Bittner (Kersten) was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
When a friend’s mother who was diagnosed with cancer came to medical student Anja asking for help to understand her diagnostic findings from the doctor, the idea of Was hab’ ich? was born. Was hab’ ich? provides patients with the opportunity to send in their diagnostic findings online and have them translated by advanced medical students into an easy to understand language. Through this system, Anja addresses multiple facets of an existing problem: (i) she educates and builds awareness among medical students about a new way of empathetic, understandable and clear communication, and (ii) she empowers patients to understand their diagnosis and meet their doctors at eye-level, demanding and feeling entitled to clear communication.

Anja fosters the basis for shared decision-making, a new paradigm in doctor-patient relationships. Though starting at the individual level of the doctor-patient relationship, she moves beyond and systematically includes all important stakeholders—medical students, doctors, medical associations, health insurances, and additional partners. In this process Anja is changing the framework for doctor-patient relationships so that doctors value the ability and time for communication and recognize that clear communication is key to successful and economically efficient treatment.

Anja’s goal is to reshape the health system and patient-doctor relationships so there is no longer even a need for Was hab’ ich. She is already influencing medical schools to think about how they teach. Anja has begun working with a major health insurance company to use her data anonymously to see where the patterns of miscommunication exist. Anja he has also had conversations with the Ministry of Health about altering the reimbursement system for doctors, ensuring that discussions between doctors and patients, not just further testing, are appropriately covered.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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