DigitalRadar: How digital are German hospitals?
Germany is in danger of missing the boat with the world's leading medical companies because digitization is progressing only slowly. The German government wants to counteract this with the Hospital Future Act – KHZG in short. But hospitals are not keeping up with digital modernization due to long-running IT projects and a lack of capacity. The use of cloud technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS) could bring about the longed-for turnaround and accelerate digitization. Find out here how this can succeed.
What is the "DigitalRadar"?
In order to better assess the digitization progress of German hospitals, a consortium of experts from science, research and consulting has developed the DigitalRadar for hospitals (DRK). At its core is, among other things, a standardized online questionnaire for hospitals, which helps to assess the status of their digitization.
Details are revealed by the DigitalRadar Score (DR Score). Its scale ranges from 0 for "not digitized" to 100 for "fully digitized. The expert consortium evaluates various aspects such as
- Is the electronic health record (ePA) already in use?
- Are medical devices interconnected?
- To what extent is telemedicine implemented in a clinic?
DigitalRadar score paints a sobering picture
An initial DigitalRadar interim report, based on a survey conducted before implementation of the KHZG-funded measures, made the healthcare sector sit up and take notice: Many of the 1,624 participating hospitals - after all, 91% of all hospitals, which are part of the German Hospital Plan - scored on average only about 33 of the 100 possible points in the DR score.
After all, some hospitals have already introduced advanced digital solutions such as electronic patient records for better information sharing.
However, it is also clear that hospitals still have a long way to go. So far, in fact, that in July 2023 the German government felt compelled to significantly extend the implementation deadline for KHZG-funded IT projects. Hospitals now have until the end of 2025 to implement or at least commission initial digitization measures in line with the Hospital Future Act.
"The results of the study are sobering. In individual cases, advanced digital solutions such as medical data clouds are already being used, but in essence, the expansion of telemedicine is the main bottleneck. The background is often a chronically understaffed IT department that simply lacks the capacity for innovation projects."
Tobias Anger, Chief Technology Officer, Telepaxx Medical Data GmbH
Staff shortage slows down hospital digitization
From our point of view, hospital digitization is hitting a snag primarily due to two factors: Too few or overworked IT staff and complex, closed IT systems. Often, IT departments are busy keeping existing IT systems up and running. Innovation projects, such as those promoted by the Hospital Future Act, among other things, are then at the bottom of the agenda.
In addition, the IT systems to be supported have gotten long in the thooth and changes to individual components usually have an impact on other elements of the complex IT landscape. Hospitals are reluctant to do this, but the pressure to modernize is growing from all sides.
So what steps can hospitals take to reduce the acute workload on IT staff and prepare for the greater networking that is required? One possibility is the use of cloud technologies, which has already spurred digitization in other industries and are explicitly promoted by the KHZG.
Medical data cloud relieves strain on personnel and IT resources
Because cloud servers are managed by the respective providers, hospitals can better deploy their human and IT resources thanks to cloud infrastructures and SaaS solutions.
Time-intensive processes such as maintenance work, in-house server updates and hardware maintenance are eliminated. Instead, employees have the capacity to implement innovation projects and take care of the remaining critical infrastructure.
Easy data exchange through the cloud
With true cloud solutions like our cloud PACS, medical data is stored in a "computer cloud" and can be easily exchanged digitally - both within a hospital and with downstream care centers, as well as with the patients themselves.
It is also possible to store data from the cloud in the electronic patient record without much effort on the part of medical staff or IT.
Always in focus: compliance with applicable data protection laws. In principle, the GDPR allows medical data to be stored in the cloud. The cloud providers themselves apply the highest security standards in their data centers to prevent attacks by hackers or ransomware.
Conclusion: How hospitals quickly implement the requirements of the KHZG
We are certain that Germany can once again catch up with the world leaders in medical care - despite the shortage of staff at the hospitals.
The key to this also lies in relieving the burden on IT departments, because they create the technological basis for the use of modern medical technology. A simple and proven step towards this is the use of GDPR-compliant cloud solutions for medical data.
With a partner at your side that combines secure cloud technologies and proven software-as-a-service, hospitals can reliably and quickly put the requirements of KHZG-funded projects into practice. This will then also improve the DigitalRadar score of the next survey round.
Want to learn more about the cloud?
Feel free to contact me to learn more about how you can archive, share and manage diagnostic medical data securely and easily in the cloud.
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