“A new three-pronged framework for the digital world”
(Originally published in Market Access & Health Policy Issue 05/2017. Download the original article in German here.)
The digitization of our lives does not stop when it comes to our health. However, the framework conditions around healthcare in Germany are extremely unfavorable in comparison to our European neighbors. Our healthcare policy is lagging behind: regulations are out-of-date, data protection requirements are excessive, and sustainable investments into healthcare innovation are proving hard to find.
Communication between the “patient” and the “system” is shaped by an old-fashioned framework. The ban on telemedicine and the debate on a ban of the mail-order prescription drug market are just two examples. And this occurs in a world where “Doctor Google” is now part of standard care elsewhere − or where the family doctor can at least use Skype to make a diagnosis and write a prescription.
Further fiercely contested sectors such as the authorization right in the outpatient sector and the prohibition right in the inpatient sector, are issues that we haven’t really made progress on recently.
A recent survey by McKinsey also corroborates the deficits in the hospital market when it comes to digitization, finding that German hospitals had a tremendous amount of ground to make up. Three out of five hospitals so far are lacking a digitization strategy. The vast majority of directors (85%) describe the progress and quality of digitization at their own facilities as inadequate.
Resistance is coming from all fronts, including a latent “digital aversion” in the German medical profession on the one hand, and legislative ignorance when it comes to the German medical market on the other. Compounding the problem is that in spite of all of counterarguments, our current telematics structure does not provide for the integration of apps into our system. Here, too, politicians ought to provide impetus for change.
All of this results in innovation struggling to make it into the system. And even if it was possible to overcome the kind of aforementioned resistance, innovation usually ends up failing in the end due to formal processes. The Federal Joint Committee has certainly acknowledged the situation, but whether or how the committee can (or wants to) counteract this is still entirely open.