Innovations and modernization of the healthcare system

Innovations lead to the modernization and digitization of the healthcare system. Important modernization measures help to improve treatment options, for example through telemedicine, research and artificial intelligence.

At a glance

  • The secure telematics infrastructure acts as a foundation for innovation and the digitization of the healthcare system.
  • The expansion of telemedical services improves care and makes it more efficient.
  • Data donations support health research. By processing this medical data using artificial intelligence, for example, new treatment methods can be derived.
  • Trustworthy information about health and digitization can be obtained from the national health portal and health insurance providers.
  • Reliable knowledge about health should make it easier to take health-related decisions.
Doctor or nurse showing another person a picture of a spinal column on a tablet.

Innovations and modernization of the healthcare system

The aim of digitization is to make the healthcare system simpler, better and more efficient for everyone involved. Telemedicine, i.e. the remote delivery of healthcare services, for example, plays a part in this.

To help people find what they are looking for among the huge range of information available online, the health portal acts as a trustworthy source that enables citizens to make independent health-related decisions based on reliable information.

The technical requirements for the secure exchange of data between all involved parties are already in place. Most of the service providers are networked within the technological framework for digitization – the telematics infrastructure. In the future, this will also enable voluntary and anonymous data donations from electronic patient records for research purposes.

This is a list of the various innovations around digitization in healthcare and their requirements.

Advances in healthcare due to digital networking
Key components are provision of reliable health information, telemedical applications such as online video consultations for patients, apps on prescription and the electronic patient record (ePA). In future, the ePA will allow protected shared data to be gathered and analyzed. This will allow new findings to be gained in health research as well as encouraging innovations and the use of artificial intelligence. The telematics infrastructure is at the heart of this technological advance and is the basis for rapid, secure sharing of data between all stakeholders.

Telemedicine for modern digital care

Telemedicine, i.e. the remote delivery of healthcare services, is constantly developing. It is intended to complement conventional medical treatment if required, not replace it. There are many situations in which it is useful for doctors and patients to use video appointments for online consultations. Since 2020, such appointments have also been used for both individual and group psychotherapy sessions.

Telemedicine is intended to complement the usual medical treatment if required, not replace it.

Telemedical technology also makes it possible to transmit results such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature in real time. This enables doctors to assist emergency responders in the event of a medical emergency, for example, and take decisions about further treatment by video. This approach is already being used in several parts of Germany and is to be expanded.

Improving health literacy: the health portal and services from health insurance providers

According to the European health literacy project, the term “health literacy” refers to the knowledge, motivation and skills needed to acquire, understand, categorize and use health information. This means that health literacy is required to make informed, independent, health-related decisions.

The health portal acts as an online source of reliable, easy-to-understand health information for all citizens. As such, it helps people understand their own health and correctly classify and use medical services for the purpose of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Interesting fact: Many health insurance providers offer services in relation to a variety of “digital health” topics. They also help people install, activate and use the electronic patient record (ePA) app.

Developing the technical requirements

When it comes to the digitization of the healthcare system, secure, networkable and innovative information technology (IT) is both the foundation stone and the springboard for further developments.

Secure foundations: service providers’ requirements

Service providers such as medical practices and hospitals are connected to the telematics infrastructure. We can think of the telematics infrastructure as a good digital transport network for digitization in healthcare. Care is taken to ensure that the roads are well and safely constructed, that crossings with lights (interfaces) enable traffic to flow smoothly and that drivers have a license (electronic medical data card and digital identities). The digital infrastructure in the healthcare sector meets stringent requirements on data protection and data security.

The digital infrastructure in the healthcare sector meets stringent requirements on data protection and data security.

Telematics infrastructure: expanding the possibilities

Insurance holders currently use electronic medical data cards (eGK). Together with their identification photo, these prove their identity and insurance cover. In the future, they should be able to provide proof of their insurance cover and identity in purely digital format.

Plans also exist to create a messaging service for the healthcare system, with similar functions to WhatsApp, for example. This will enable data-protected communication between all parties involved in the healthcare system, for example, between medical practices and patients. The insured parties and doctors will be able to independently decide whether or not they wish to use this messaging service.

Making data available for research

Health research makes significant progress through the use of large volumes of medical data. Therefore, from 2023 onwards, health insurance holders will be able to voluntarily donate health data from their own ePA in anonymized form for research purposes.

By sharing health data and making it available nationally and across Europe for research purposes, it will be possible to conduct studies on the emergence, spread, combating and social consequences of diseases. In particular, networking of data will enable better research into rare health conditions.

For example, large data volumes (big data) can be used – for example, with the aid of artificial intelligence – to derive new findings in relation to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and health conditions.

Support for health insurance providers, service providers and hospitals

Hospitals are provided with means and resources to invest in optimum digitization, modern emergency capacities and IT security.

The innovation fund is used to support research projects that deal with new concepts for healthcare that go beyond the standard services currently covered by statutory health insurance providers.

It is now easier for health insurance providers to offer policy holders innovative digital products and customized advice tailored to their healthcare needs based on data evaluations.

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