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INTERVIEW

Tobias Gantner – “Health care is about patients, not doctors”

Founder of HealthCare Futurists reveals how health care can be fun during second Sciana meeting

Tobias Gantner speaking at the second meeting of the 2017 Sciana group

Mirva Villa | 07.02.2018

Tobias Gantner, the founder and chief executive officer of the HealthCare Futurists, is literally drumming up support for innovation in health care.

This fact was made clear during the second meeting of the 2017 Sciana group when Gantner displayed how a physiotherapy exercise could be made fun with the use of a virtual drum kit.

After an impressive drum solo using digital drumsticks, Gantner was met with smiles and laughter. This is just the response Gantner hoped for. It’s a sign that patients might enjoy using the technology, too.

“Health care is about patients, not doctors,” said Gantner. “We tend to live in a very doctor-centric world, a very regulated world where we think that medication, in order for it to work, has to taste bitter. I think health care can be fun.”

It was by chance the HealthCare Futurists discovered the digital drumsticks, but Gantner and his colleagues immediately saw its potential as a tool to gamify health care.

“We instantly had the idea that we could be using this for physiotherapy,” said Gantner. “Instead of going through boring physiotherapy exercises, you probably want to add one more skill to what you already know, which is playing the drums.”

Gantner’s team is currently developing software to teach a user how to play. They’re working alongside drum-playing physiotherapists. The product is still in its early stages, but Gantner was planning to make them a feature of the Innovate.Healthcare hackathon in January, which took place in Cologne, Germany.

“The looks that you get when you’re at the train station or the airport when you have your headphones on and play the drums – it’s kind of funny,” Gantner remarked.

Gantner’s organisation is working on many other “less flashy” digital gadgets, apps and programmes which he hopes will one day play a part in people’s normal health care routines. This includes 3D-printed medicine and acoustic biomarkers that measure the amount of sugar in the blood of a diabetic person based on the sound of their voice.

Health care and self-care, Gantner thinks, are closely intertwined. To democratise health care, people need to get interested in their health before they actually need a doctor, he argues. Innovation isn’t without its challenges, however.

Gantner said, “If you’re dealing with innovation, you find a lot of people who don’t share your ideas and are stuck in their world and rather not want things to change… To me, innovation always brings in transparency.”

Transparency in healthcare, Gantner argues, means doctors can be questioned by their patients. This changes the role of the health care providers and doctors, which has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Gantner says innovations are almost like intruders, but he welcomes them. They can bring a new understanding of health care.

“I’m a doctor myself, so I went through the system: medical school and residency. I always thought that there are great ideas from the outside that we need to bring into health,” said Gantner.

Gantner is grateful to be part of Sciana and is looking forward to collaborating with other members of the group. Speaking after his presentation, he said he appreciated the chance to share with the group what his company is doing, and the experience was already opening new doors for him. He said, “The great part is that I think people here have understood the value of collaboration.”


Tobias Gantner is a member of the 2017 Sciana group. Sciana: The Health Leaders Network was launched by the Health Foundation (UK), Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany), and Careum Stiftung (Switzerland) in collaboration with Salzburg Global Seminar. More information on the 2017 Sciana group can be found here: https://www.sciananetwork.org/about/sciana-members-2017.html

07.02.2018 Category: SCIANA News
Mirva Villa