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“With the KHZG, the federal government is showing classic investor behavior.”

From the patient experience, to the difficult topic of data protection, to the integration of billing institutions into the digital processes of clinics – the conversation with adesso CEO Stefan Riedel is probably what is generally called an “all-rounder”, a positive one of course.

Mr. Riedel, adesso SE is one of the leading IT service providers in German-speaking countries. Its claim is “Business, People, Technology”. How important is this triad for digitization projects?

From our point of view, this triad is essential. In today’s world, technology simply happens. No one can stop it, it is being developed, and what people pick up on will prevail. The best example is Apple’s iPhone. Companies, no matter which industry, have to learn to use technology for themselves and their business model. We understand our task at adesso to support companies in aligning their business model to the customer on the basis of new technologies. Moreover, these technologies in the healthcare sector enable new supply and optimization approaches.

So you bring along the understanding of technology. How deeply do you know the processes of the healthcare sector?

Here, too, we can draw on in-depth knowledge, be it from the regulatory perspective, from the perspective of the service providers, the payers, but also from the perspective of the insured patients. So we know the industry from a regulatory perspective, we know the interests and needs of the various players and stakeholders, and at the end of the day we can assess what is technologically possible and how suitable solutions can best be implemented technically.

With this know-how behind you: How do you assess the opportunities of the KHZG for the German hospital world?

I believe the opportunities are enormous. The healthcare sector is an ecosystem that is under maximum strain and has really “only” lacked the initial spark when it comes to digitization. Like other companies, clinics have to constantly re-evaluate how they serve their needs. The pandemic has massively increased acceptance and demand. The KHZG even opens up the “luxury” of rethinking isolated processes and putting them into practice. In the end, however, classic investor behavior is required and encouraged in a tightly regulated system. Money is not simply given to an organization in the hope that it will be used to implement something worthwhile; rather, the goal to be achieved with the investment is already clearly described in the various funding acts: The focus is on the process of patient care and its safety. Last but not least, 15 percent of the funding amounts are to be invested in IT security, as also offered by adesso.

Is digitalization within the framework of the KHZG an opportunity to look at patients and their “experience” in the hospital holistically again?

We know that the interdisciplinary and intersectoral view of a patient is crucial for the success of modern therapies. And for this, accurate, targeted communication based on data is essential. In addition, digitization projects always have a strong automation component. Wherever it makes sense, processes can be carried out automatically and faster, without media discontinuity. So if we succeed in supplementing treatments with modern communication technology “from the patient’s point of view,” then in my respective role – be it as a doctor, an administrator, or a nurse – I can naturally support patients in a completely different way. The experience should not be misinterpreted as an entertainment factor. It’s about optimal care that also offers the hospitals added value from a strictly economic point of view. In this respect, I think that the KHZG is also a great opportunity from this point of view.

But it will only work if data can also be used. Doesn’t data protection in the healthcare sector currently tend to put the brakes on this use?

I think we need to demystify data protection. There is a lot of fear and ignorance here. It must be clear where the data is located – ideally in the EU’s legal sphere – and that this data can be hacked in the worst case. But even written down on a piece of paper in your own or the doctor’s desk drawer, an unauthorized third party can access it in case of doubt. I can counter this with intelligent consent management, which can also deal with data collection for research purposes: The patient consents for a specific purpose and can also revoke this consent at any time. Because what is also important to emphasize is that Stefan Riedel’s vital data, taken individually, are usually completely irrelevant. Above all, anonymized as one data point of many, they have an added medical value and can help to possibly cure diseases or improve therapies in the future. If these aspects are clear, every citizen should have sovereign access to his or her data and, in case of doubt, also be able to donate it – and that is precisely what is currently envisaged by law.

You already mentioned it at the beginning: adesso also knows the insurance industry well, which should of course be an important partner in digitalization projects in the healthcare sector. Does the KHZG have the potential to prepare interfaces and connecting points here?

Absolutely, which is why I think the name “Hospital Future Act” is so appropriate. It’s about the future of the insured and the system as a whole, which of course includes the billing institutions and the general interaction of patients with service providers in the healthcare system. At the interface of accompanying a person in a difficult phase, which is called illness, the “payer” makes an elementary contribution, which, by the way, would also very much like to become a “player”. It is about prevention, support and aftercare, i.e. about accompanying the insured person in the context of his or her health. This can be achieved with the KHZG. After all, the interaction between participants in the healthcare system will be fundamentally improved by digitization and the careful handling of data, and support for intersectoral communication, for example via the structures of the telematics infrastructure, has already been included in the law.