Expand networks and secure funding

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – To anchor telemedicine offers in a sustainable and comprehensive way in the hospital landscape, it is necessary to rethink towards more network structures and secure financing. Participants in a panel discussion today at the 14th National Telemedicine Congress agreed with this. The congress was organized by the German Society for Telemedicine (DGTelemed) organized.

To ensure hospital care in the future, we have to move away from location thinking, said the CEO of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gass. To date, the requirements for the provision and billing of inpatient services apply to a hospital. The agreement on the definition of the location of hospitals and their outpatient clinics between the umbrella association for legal health insurance (GKV) and, according to the DKG, this means that several non-contiguous buildings cannot be separated by more than 2,000 meters as the crow flies.

Theoretically, exceptions are already possible today, but the GKV would hardly allow them, says Gaß. However, it is necessary to rethink when it comes to hospital reform. For example, planned cross-sector care facilities rely primarily on other hospitals and centers that would support them with telemedical care, for example. Regulations are needed to ensure that care is permitted even if it is not provided exclusively at the person’s location. Instead of specifying a location, tiered supply networks with more robust hubs should be established. Financial concepts are also needed here, demanded Gaß. Hospitals should also be able to refinance telemedicine offerings

We also need to allow more space for innovation and not nip any ideas in the bud due to strict personnel or administrative requirements, demanded Gaß. More design freedom is needed, especially for telemedicine. Care should focus more on the quality of results and less on process criteria.

Competitive advantage and greater patient safety

The head of anesthesiology at St. Augustinus Hospital in Düren, Markus Huppertz-Thyssen, explained why telemedicine offers will become increasingly important in the future. Collaboration with experts in certain areas increases patient safety. This would also allow you to offer better training to your employees. Additional specialization is particularly important for young interns for their ongoing training.

Huppertz-Thyssen also thinks it is good and important, as a chief physician, to be able to learn from other colleagues, for example from university medicine. He wants to model this lifelong learning for his team. Huppertz-Thyssen was convinced that within a few years it would be a competitive advantage if smaller hospitals in particular offered telemedicine. And: “We don’t accept each other’s patients, but we are happy when we take care of them,” he said.

CDU politician and Bundestag member Erwin Rüddel also emphasized that we must move towards treating analogue and digital treatments equally in the future. Telemedicine and video consultations are necessary for care. The third party must do the same Digital law for the restructuring of Gematik Soon, said Rüddel. “We need Gematik to define standards and enforce them,” says Rüddel. Competition between suppliers, on the other hand, is also necessary, said Rüddel.

Sustainable financing models needed

However, better financing options for telemedical care are needed, according to discussion participants. In the past, telemedicine projects were often supported by the Federal Joint Committee Innovation Fund (G-BA), explained the head of the Digital Transformation department at Berlin Charité, Peter Gocke. Only very few of them ended up in regular care after the project period. This form of financing is therefore not sustainable, said Gocke.

In the future, projects that advance particularly the electronic patient record (ePA), electronic prescription and electronic patient identity are needed, demanded Gocke. It would no longer allow funding for any telemedicine projects that do not participate on the relevant platforms.

Gino Liguori, head of the digital health and innovation department at hospital group Vivantes, also criticizes sustainable financing problems with telemedicine projects. Furthermore, network thinking is often lacking. Although Vivantes already has a good network in Berlin, it also wants to expand this structure to Brandenburg. However, adequate incentive systems are lacking here, criticized Liguori. He is also committed to binding standards so that projects like the Vivantes and Charité interoperability platform do not remain lighthouse projects but become part of standard care. © cmk/aerzteblatt.de

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