Ansgar Jonietz auf einem rotem Sessel

Ansgar Jonietz: “We want doctors and patients to be on equal terms”

22 March 2018

When it comes to interpreting medical findings, most people feel quite helpless: Ansgar Jonietz and his team want to change this. Now, when they visit the “Was hab ich” (in English – What is wrong with me?) online portal, patients can upload their diagnostic results, and medical students and doctors then translate them from highly-technical into understandable German.

Name: Ansgar Jonietz

Age: 33

Position: CEO of the company „Was hab‘ ich?“ gemeinnützigen GmbH


What is „Was hab ich“?
Patients can submit their medical results to the website and then receive an easy-to-understand translation of their documents. The translations are created free of charge by medical students and doctors, and the service is anonymous and cost-free for patients. Our aim: to put doctor and patient on equal terms.

The world needs „Was hab ich“ because…
… hardly any easy-to-understand information on health is available – although health-related competence is shockingly low among the German population and patients increasingly wish to play an active role in their treatment. Patients who understand their condition can consciously work to improve it, they are more likely to adhere to and follow their therapy and can make better decisions in cooperation with their doctors.

The greatest challenge at the moment is ...
… to develop software which enables us automatically to create an easy-to-understand version of the hospital discharge letter – so that in future all patients in Germany will understand their medical results.

What new opportunities does the Internet offer to patients?
Patients can have online access to a great deal of information – whether regarding disease symptoms or treatment options. And they can search for addresses and evaluations of medical practitioners. The challenge is that trustworthy, verified and easily understandable information is not always easy to find.

For me, programming is ...
… a fantastic opportunity to try out different things. I no longer do a lot of programming myself, but I still enjoy being able to develop small prototypes. The ability to develop software is one of the most important skills of the future – and it is truly shocking that the number of students undertaking software studies is falling!

Would you like a robot to do the housework?
Most certainly, and it should be a strong and intelligent one: preferably an industrial robot that can empty the dishwasher, reach all parts of my home independently and operate all the domestic equipment. But I do not (yet) find vacuum cleaners that travel round the house on a random basis convincing.

What digital product has still to be invented?
All products are suffering from a difficult man-machine interface at the moment. It will become more exciting when we find new ways of controlling electronic devices and receiving the necessary information. Maybe spectacles and and contact lenses with displays will offer a next step in enabling technology to support us in everyday life in an even more intuitive way.

What digital products don’t you need?
I could do without digital assistants with speech recognition. I generally experience Siri & Co. as a demo of the technology concerned, but only seldom in real application scenarios.

What aspect of technology will always remain a mystery to you?
Aircraft. It’s crazy that they are so heavy but can still fly!

When were you last offline for 24 hours?
The last time was almost two years ago, when I visited friends over the weekend and wanted to enjoy my time with them without emails and messages. I enjoy flight mode, where I can consciously disconnect myself – but still not use it often enough and for too short a time. And I now have too many radio devices that would all have to be switched separately to “offline”.

Holiday without WLAN – dream or nightmare?
Nightmare! The Internet is a bit like poison in that it’s the dosage that matters. I find being able to look at my emails now and then when I’m on holiday more of a reassurance than a burden.

The “Profile” series is a new format of #explore: Here we want to regularly give a voice to exciting and inspiring people from the digital scene - to researchers, bloggers, start-up founders, entrepreneurs, hackers, and visionaries.