Germany’s digital health efforts are flailing. Is a Lauterbach strategy the ticket? – POLITICO & More News Here

This article is the product of a POLITICO Working Group.

Germany could also be recognized for its effectivity, however that is not true in relation to the digitalization of its health system.

Since 2019, Germany has launched three main new digital health legal guidelines overlaying every thing from digital affected person information to the digitalization of its hospitals. But in hospitals and GP rooms, vital progress is one thing of an enigma. 

While the pandemic helped crystalize the significance of digital instruments resembling digital consultations, in lots of areas, Germany is years behind others in the bloc. Around 95 % of communication between outpatient docs and hospitals continues to be paper-based; sufferers aren’t even utilizing their digital health information; and solely round two dozen digital health apps have been accredited, in response to a report from McKinsey. 

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach is aware of change has been glacial — he was one among the initiators of a proposal to create an digital affected person file at a assembly at a Berlin lodge. That was 20 years in the past. 

Speaking at the nation’s annual digital health honest in April, Lauterbach mentioned he would “never have imagined” that 20 years on, he can be standing earlier than an viewers with the digital affected person file nonetheless not totally launched. “That thought would have blown my mind,” he mentioned. 

What Lauterbach believes is lacking is a new strategy. 

The nation has a lot of “tactics, a lot of technology and a lot of innovation, but we have no overarching strategy,” he mentioned.

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A key drawback is that Germany is fragmented with totally different software program and requirements getting used throughout the nation, mentioned Matthias Mieves, member of the Bundestag and Social Democrat. “You don’t have to compare us to Israel. We are years behind Denmark and Sweden too.”

It’s meant that the rollout of e-prescriptions has been delayed once more and digital affected person information are nonetheless being applied in some amenities. Germany has some catching as much as do as the European Health Data Space lands, setting a 2025 deadline for the nation to have the ability to share this information with the remainder of the EU.

In Bertelsmann Stiftung’s digital health rating, Germany is available in sixteenth place, second to final out of the nations in contrast. It should not be this fashion.

Eye on the prize 

“Germany is sitting on one of the biggest treasure troves of health care data,” mentioned Stefan Biesdorf, associate and member of McKinsey Digital and McKinsey Analytics, at a POLITICO working group on Germany’s digitalization in April. “The public health system has comprehensive and longitudinal data for 88 percent of the German population.” 

Different software program interfaces and administrative procedures throughout the nation imply that information from thousands and thousands of sufferers cannot simply be used.  

Markus Leyck Dieken, CEO of gematik, the company working the platform for digital functions in the health care system, is set to vary issues and deal with the fragmentation in Germany’s health care system, which is exclusive amongst European nations.

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While there are nice tasks being carried out in Germany, they’re being finished by particular person areas, firms or health insurers, he mentioned. Even the programs that hospitals use to gather information varies.

“Who has the guts and the courage to say although we are torn apart by particular interests, we have to overcome those because otherwise, nobody will have anything?” he mentioned.

Henning Schneider, CIO of personal hospital group Asklepios, describes the problem: They have information archived from thousands and thousands of sufferers in native info programs however in the finish, they can’t extract a lot info out of the information, as a result of every hospital has collected the information with totally different processes, with totally different focuses and beneath tips of the regional information privateness rules.

What’s left is a “graveyard with a lot of data there which you cannot use to improve patient treatment.”

Bring in the new blood  

The new coalition authorities led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to cut back forms, velocity up the introduction of the digital affected person file and e-prescriptions and draft a new health information regulation.

But the actuality has been a little totally different. 

“We haven’t seen too much action from [the federal government] in the last six or seven months,” mentioned Georg Muenzenrieder, who heads up digitalization in health care at the Bavarian State Ministry for Health and Care and can be chair of gematik’s board. 

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“We have lost some time — and not only a few weeks, but more than half a year now.” 

The new authorities’s job has been made tougher by the sheer complexity of the health system, mentioned Muenzenrieder. “[Germany has] these different layers of legal framework and decision making, and they make the system very slow,” he mentioned. 

While sufferers are in favor of digitalization, lower than 1 % of these surveyed are really utilizing it.

“We need a communication campaign,” mentioned Anne Sophie Geier, managing director of the German Digital Healthcare Association. The aftermath of a pandemic is the proper time to persuade folks, she mentioned.

Lauterbach appears to grasp that as effectively, describing himself as not simply the “health minister” but in addition the “digitalization minister.” The intention is for the new strategy course of to be rolled out after the summer season break and for a plan to land this yr. 

If any further impetus have been wanted, it is coming from Brussels. The European Commission proposed a European Health Data Space on May 3 to advertise digitalization in the sector.

“We have a window of opportunity now, we can learn from the past,” mentioned Muenzenrieder.

This article is produced with full editorial independence by POLITICO reporters and editors. Learn extra about editorial content material introduced by exterior advertisers.

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