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Digitisation in the health care sector

Digitisation in the health care sector 05.08.2019 - Digitisation in the health care sector
On the web platform "Industry of Things" Lisa Marie Waschbusch focuses on the topic of digitization in the health care system. The industry has annual expenditures of around 290 billion euros. According to a study by McKinsey from the year 2018, about 34 billion euros could be saved in Germany every year if digitization were to be implemented effectively across the board in the healthcare sector. This equals 12% of the annual spending of the entire healthcare industry. According to McKinsey, electronic patient records would be one of the key factors, and so would online consultation.
 
Digital technologies in the healthcare industry
McKinsey has looked at the different areas of the healthcare industry and identified how digital technologies could save money. Stefan Biesdorf, one of McKinsey's partners, presented the results of his study to experts last year and came to the conclusion that the savings potential amounts to 34 billion euros annually. And this would be possible with comparatively simple methods, because the required technologies are already available and ready for use. The focus of the study was on ways to avoid unnecessary costs, such as duplicate examinations or unnecessary hospital admissions. Costs would also be saved by improving the quality of follow-up treatments. One of the main findings of the study is that the introduction of a central electronic health record could save a total of 6.4 billion euros. This is more than half of the total savings potential and can theoretically be achieved by eliminating many unnecessary costs if all doctors and hospitals had access to centrally stored information on each patient.
 
Suggestions from McKinsey
McKinsey specifically focused on the various savings potentials and the possibilities of using digital technologies. There are six solution categories in her study, which are based on a total of 26 examined technologies. McKinsey names paperless data processing, which includes the digital patient file, as having a savings potential of nine billion euros. With a savings potential of 8.9 billion euros, McKinsey describes the area of online communication and consultation, which also includes tele-consultation. 6.1 billion savings potential is seen in the automation of work processes. According to McKinsey, this could mainly be achieved by mobile networking of nursing staff. Medications could also be administered with the help of barcodes.
Through the use of suitable software programs, greater transparency and a better data overview could be achieved as a basis for more sound decisions and thereby a saving of 5.6 billion euros could be achieved. A saving of 3.8 billion euros could be realized through increased self-treatment by patients. In many cases, health apps and digital diagnostic tools can support the work of physicians. Finally, half a billion euros could be saved by using online portals to make appointments for example. This would reduce the administrative workload of practices and could be implemented immediately.
 
Who benefits from digitisation?
Not only patients and taxpayers would benefit from the digitisation of the healthcare sector. Doctors and hospitals in particular will benefit greatly from digital services and the associated improvements, because according to the McKinsey study, 70% of the costs saved will remain with the hospitals and doctors, who will save time and money through the various measures. In the end, about 30% of the savings could be passed on to the health insurance companies and the people insured. The McKinsey experts point out that digital solutions not only save costs. Numerous problematic processes could also be improved. Tele-consulting, for example, can make a valuable contribution to tackling the problem of physician shortages in rural areas. When experts and specialists are available for virtual consultations, distances become less important and the lack of specialists in rural areas can be countered or mitigated. In the ideal case, all doctors would always have access to all data - including the records and diagnoses of their colleagues. This saves a lot of time and reduces the risk of incorrect diagnoses. Nurses would also have access to this data and could thus provide a better and more tailored service. The evaluation and monitoring of ambulatory patients could be significantly improved and facilitated by more transparent data.
 
The technologies already exist
The McKinsey experts point out that many of our neighboring countries are already further ahead in this area and that Germany is lagging behind in digital development, especially in the health sector. However, this is not because financial resources are scarce or technology is lacking. Volker Amelung, Chairman of the Federal Association of Managed Care (BMC), sees the reason for the too slow development in Germany in the fact that the attitude towards digital technologies in the minds of decision-makers in Germany is simply still too cautious. The fear of change will have to be overcome otherwise the healthcare system in Germany will be left behind. The McKinsey study wants to make this decision easier, because if modernization and improvements also save money, this can be a motor for the industry.
 
The original article by Lisa Marie Waschbusch can be found here: www.industry-of-things.de/digitaler-zwilling-ein-herzensprojekt-a-812001/
 

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