Digital pent-up demand in the German healthcare sector

RyanMc Guire,

It is a fact that Germany is one of the laggards in the digitalization of the healthcare sector in a European or international comparison. In a self-assessment as part of the “DigitalRadar”, 1,616 hospitals have now indicated their level of digital maturity in a wide range between 3.27 and 63.87 out of a possible 100 points. The average score for all participating hospitals was 33.25 points. According to the scientific director of DigitalRadar, Sylvia Thun from the Berlin Institute of Health, this puts most hospitals in an “unhealthy mediocrity”. Hospitals that apply for funding under the Hospital Future Act (KZHG) are obliged to participate in DigitalRadar.

What are the reasons for the delay in digitalization? The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) in Karlsruhe has investigated this and derived recommendations for action.
According to the study, the obstacles to digitalization include:

Although the legislative initiatives of former Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) form an important basis for accelerating digitalization, further political initiatives are needed to make digital applications widely available and create tangible added value. In particular, the two key stakeholder groups in the healthcare system – patients and healthcare professionals – need to be convinced. The expansion of a more powerful internet infrastructure, the development of an e-health strategy, better networking in the healthcare system and a significant improvement in IT security in healthcare facilities could also accelerate digitalization.

Smart hospital

Of course, efforts are already being made to promote digitalization in the healthcare sector on both a smaller and larger scale. At Essen University Hospital, for example, digitalization has been declared a top priority and a steering group of 30 employees has been formed, who have developed various modules for the implementation of the Smart Hospital in individual working groups. The modules include the creation of a service information center, which patients can use to reach the hospital at any time. In addition, the emergency department has been completely digitalized and made paperless.

Digital cross-sector emergency care

The SaN (cross-sector outpatient emergency care) pilot project aims to improve cross-sector emergency care in Hesse so that patients can reach the right place in the healthcare system more quickly – be it a doctor’s surgery or a hospital. The technical interlinking of the outpatient and inpatient sectors with the emergency services is the basic prerequisite for this. To this end, the control centers of the emergency services and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians are technically linked, the partner practices are connected to the capacity planning system of the hospitals (IVENA) and software (SmED) is introduced to ensure a uniform initial medical assessment.

The pilot project will run from April 1, 2022 until the end of March 2024 in the districts of Main-Kinzig, Main-Taunus-Kreis and Gießen.

Thip Pruckner, Market Intelligence Expert