Software for the healthcare sector
Curamatik GmbH from the CHIC Charlottenburg Innovation Centre offers digital support for health issues
Anyone seeking information on health issues today typically does more than simply asking doctors and pharmacists. In the era of smartphones and the internet, the range of digital tools has grown rapidly in the past few years – which was also thanks to Curamatik. “We are specialised on the healthcare sector,” says CEO Sebastian Ahrndt. “This ranges from lifestyle apps that are downloadable in app stores, to medical products that are used or marketed by specialised manufacturers.”
As an IT service provider, his company works in the background. “A project often starts with an idea sketch,” says the computer scientist. “The customers give us a rough direction – for example, something on diabetes, on mental illnesses, or chronic wounds – and we explore the potential for development.” For Ahrndt and his team, this is like a sandbox where they can develop an application step by step. “In the past few years, we have built a solid knowledge foundation,” he says. “In addition to aspects of technology and design, the medical sector requires intimate knowledge of the framework conditions and the legal foundation.”
And there are other differences to "classic" software development. “On the one hand, we have to scan the market very intensively for legal and content-related changes,” explains Sebastian Ahrndt. “We manage a pregnancy app, for example. If something changes regarding parental allowance or family insurance, we must act quickly.” Another challenge is to identify the needs of end users. Normally, this is done by using analysis tools in the apps. “This is something that is most often prohibited with our customers,” he says.
“We are often dealing with sensitive medical data. For this reason, we work with classic user surveys for finding out what our users really want.”
Curamatik GmbH was the result of joint research project of Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), AOK Nordost, and AOK Bundesverband, a healthcare provider and industry association, respectively. “When I finished by PhD in 2011, my team and I investigated how to tap into the potential of digitisation for the members of the AOK community,” remembers Ahrndt. In the process, they also developed applications that reached market maturity. This marked the birth of Curamatik in August 2015.
“As a university spin-off from this research partnership, our first task was to preserve the research results and develop them further.”
But the young company was also faced with another challenge. They were looking for office space in Charlottenburg. “While doing so, we discovered two things,” he says. “The rent for offices was higher than for flats. And the minimum space started at around 400 square metres.” That was too big for a young start-up. All this time, the solution was right in front of their eyes. “From TU Berlin, we actually have a direct view of the CHIC Charlottenburg Innovation Centre,” he says with a chuckle. “And so, we decided to look at it a bit more closely.” A stroke of luck for the young company that never had a reason to regret this decision.
“Now the corridors are a bit empty due to the pandemic,” says CEO Ahrndt. Most of the Curamatik team, too, is working from home. This is not exactly ideal. “I don’t think we will fully go back to working face-to-face after the pandemic,” he says, “but we will keep the office, nonetheless. Face-to-face contact – whether with customers or between team members – is indispensable, even for a digital business.”
Kai Dürfeld for POTENZIAL