Maturity model measures digital progress in Germany

Prof. Dr Alexander Geissler from the University of St.Gallen is evaluating the digitalisation status of German hospitals as part of a national initiative. He spoke to Well about the project, the importance of digitalisation and the Well app.
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Prof. Dr. Alexander Geissler

When clinics, physician networks or organisations have incentives to work together, they become interoperable, which generates significant added value for the patient.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Geissler
Academic Director/Chairholder, School of Medicine, University of St.Gallen

The DigitalRadar in Germany

The federal government, together with the federal states, has decided to push ahead with the digitisation of hospitals, as studies have shown that there is a clear need for action. In the past decades, the federal states have not fully met their obligations with regard to investments in infrastructures and have not, for example, placed any emphasis on digitalisation. The result is a highly fragmented IT landscape with systems from different computer eras, some of which are not compatible with each other.

The federal government is supporting the project with 4.3 billion euros. In addition to providing funds for projects such as patient portals or telemedical applications, the digital maturity is to be recorded so that the effect of the measures can be quantified. The newly developed maturity model DigitalRadar evaluates hospitals at two points in time and compares the progress of digitisation. The DigitalRadar is open source and can also be used in other countries.

More on the Projekt DigitalRadar  (German only)

Interview with Prof. Dr Alexander Geissler

What are the concrete benefits of the DigitalRadar?
On the one hand, the DigitalRadar provides a general overview of the state of digitisation in hospitals in the sense of an inventory. On the other hand, the hospitals benefit from a detailed report that gives them information about what areas they can improve. A benchmarking function also shows them where they stand in comparison with other hospitals.

The IT systems in German hospitals are highly fragmented. What is the situation in Switzerland?
Scientific date in Switzerland is rare. There is hardly any comprehensive and standardised information, which is why one can only ever fall back on anecdotal evidence. Overall, Switzerland is probably at a comparable level to Germany, but there are no national efforts with incentives to promote digitalisation. When clinics, physician networks or organisations have incentives to work together, they become interoperable, which generates significant added value for the patient. Such networks have always been more advanced than non-integrated medical practices. With larger hospitals, there are still isolated solutions, i.e. the greatest possible fragmentation. In Switzerland, this is very common.

What are the dangers of such fragmentation?
Fragmentation leads to information gaps and thus to breaks in treatment. For the quality of treatment, it is increasingly crucial to have standards to make data exchangeable. Collaboration also advances research and thus improves the  overall medical care in a country.

What factors does the DigitalRadar maturity model assess?
The maturity model considers 7 dimensions from data management to patient participation. In the area of internal information exchange, for example, it is asked whether the hospital is committed to the use of standards, which standards are actually implemented and whether a central database is available. In the external exchange of information, it is of interest, among other things, whether data can be exchanged with external service providers via a secure network and whether there is an exchange on free resources with other hospitals.

What is your view on the independent and open platform Well against the background of the enormous need for digitisation in Germany and Switzerland?
This is a huge topic and it is good that there are initiatives. For patients, it is valuable that their data can be viewed and stored centrally in one place. This helps to avoid duplicate examinations and breaks in communication. Digital platforms help patients in three ways.

Patients:

  • can strengthen their health literacy,
  • have a say in the treatment path, and
  • transfer health-related data back to doctors in an automated way.

Article posted by Well-Redaktion

On 07.02.2022

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