The most important must-have criterion? Patients at the center

The hospital world is currently discussing one thing in particular: the KHZG. The deadlines of the individual federal states for the demand reports have been set, which means that the focus is now primarily on the various funding criteria with their mandatory criteria. This is good, right and important. Because although the must criteria are to be understood as a kind of minimum requirement, this does not mean that they are not also quite extensive. For example, hospitals that decide to implement funding criterion 2 “patient portal” must already fulfill a total of 17 mandatory criteria in the three areas of “digital admission management,” “digital treatment management,” and “digital discharge and transfer management.” We could list here how we implement these criteria with our patient portal m.Doc Smart Clinic, which has been tried and tested in practice for years, but at this point we would prefer to focus on what we consider to be the most important must-criterion in the long term: that patients are the focus at all times.

Focus on the patient offers added value

Because this is precisely where the great added value lies that a digital patient portal can also deliver in your hospital – with an additional gain in efficiency for the clinic as well as a reduction in the workload for the staff. One hospital that is considered a pioneer in Germany when it comes to digitization is Essen University Hospital. Its medical director, Prof. Dr. Jochen A. Werner, is something of the digitization pope of the German healthcare system. When asked why every hospital should at least consider introducing a digital patient portal, he says: “The benefits of patient portals are now obvious to everyone: The active involvement of the patient in the course of treatment is just as important as secure bidirectional transmission and availability of health data. For us as a large university hospital, it was also particularly important last year to supplement patient contact by means of a chat function or video consultation.”

This experience is also shared by Ninoslav Teodorovic, Head of IT and member of the hospital management of the Swiss Balgrist University Hospital: “We know from scientific work, mainly from the USA, that patient involvement, i.e. patient engagement, can increase the quality of treatment as well as patient satisfaction. A patient portal is the basic building block for this and forces hospitals to make major adjustments to their processes around patient communication. Such process optimization then not only prepares the ground for the all-important patient engagement, but also conserves internal human resources.” And Peter Steiner, CIO of Switzerland’s largest private psychiatric hospital group, the Clienia Group, adds, “Thanks to our patient portal, our patients always have all the information that is relevant to them at their fingertips, wherever they are. However, these advanced tools not only support our patients in their therapy and ensure secure communication with the therapist, but also relieve our employees of routine administrative tasks.”

Interoperability: Thinking about tomorrow today

Of course, you all also know that the KHZG can only be a first step, an economic stimulus package in terms of digitization, which will have to be followed by many more in the future. It is therefore important not to view the projects now being funded by the KHZG in isolation, but always in the context of an overall future strategy for a hospital, something that Prof. Dr. Jochen A. Werner from Essen University Hospital sees as perhaps the greatest challenge: “One hurdle that urgently needs to be overcome – as is far too often the case in digital medicine – is the limited interoperability and connectivity of the various systems. It is a pity that this still succeeds too rarely in 2021.

Rarely, perhaps, but it does succeed, as m.Doc’s extensive range of proprietary services underscores. Last year, we launched our sixth platform generation, which now comprises over 30 modules and solutions as the basis for our patient portal. And wherever innovative solutions have already established themselves on the market, we rely on a reliable partner ecosystem, as is currently the case, for example, with the topic of digital signatures with Validated ID, which was founded in Spain.

However, m.Doc also cooperates with other healthcare IT providers such as the HIS provider Cerner, because both companies are convinced that opening up and actively pushing cooperations is the right way to go in the long term – for the benefit of customers and patients. “There is already an extensive innovative partner ecosystem at Cerner, one of whose most important participants is m.Doc,” also emphasizes Olaf Dörge, Senior Business Developer at Cerner. “And we will continue to follow this path consistently. For years, Cerner has been one of the most active promoters of interoperability worldwide. And the feedback from users is more than positive – both in terms of the interaction between m.Doc and Cerner solutions, and with regard to the KHZG. Because users no longer have to integrate solutions themselves. Together with our partners, we create total solutions that are easy to implement.

So anyone who keeps the two important aspects of “patient focus” and “interoperability” in mind when implementing eligible projects under the KHZG can already tick off what are perhaps the most important must-have criteria of the future and, as a hospital, is well on the way to benefiting from the digital future of healthcare. Or to put it in the words of Tobias Schäfer at Meona: “In the advancing digitization of healthcare, a patient portal serves as an indispensable building block for making patient data secure, available and accessible. Communication between referring physicians and clinics is significantly improved, and in conjunction with a state-of-the-art telematics infrastructure, processes in the intersectoral area can be designed securely and more efficiently.”