The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in every sector of life, from education, training, workshops, and seminars to how we buy and sell items. From how we interact with our friends to how we work.
Similarly, the healthcare industry has not been left behind. For instance, the German health care system, which has traditionally been a laggard in that area among peer countries in Europe and the world is already witnessing a growth in digital applications. The global Digital Health market is expected to hit a 37.1% spike in growth during 2021 and continue to grow to up to US$508.8 billion by the year 2027, according to the Digital Health – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics report of 2020. Areas such as telemedicine facilitate remote patient monitoring, evaluation & management, patient safety platforms, hospital administration and management, to mention but a few have radically been affected.
At the centre of this radical growth in digital healthcare are start-ups driving this wheel of change. In Germany, for instance, the number of digital health-related start-ups has grown with the recent approved Digital Healthcare Act. An act that allows doctors to recommend digital health apps to their patients, provide online video consultations, write e-prescriptions—, and be reimbursed for that by health insurance providers. Other focus areas include wearables to support patients suffering from chronic diseases and assist in their self-management, automation of hospital operations, human resource management etc.
With such increasing attention on digital healthcare and therefore growing number of start-ups, the question is what key focus areas are affected by digital transformations. This is not a new topic among various healthcare industry stakeholders; however, with the existing fragmented discussion comes more confusion and complexities. Therefore, this article introduces a series of blogs that adopts and discusses the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of digital health interventions as guidance to areas mostly focused on by the digital start-ups in the Germany health ecosystem. The classification promotes an accessible and facilitates bridging language for stakeholders to articulate digital health implementation functionalities in critical areas. The categories include solutions for:
- patients and non-patients (clients)
- healthcare providers (doctors, nurses etc.)
- healthcare systems and resource management
- data services
Firstly, the solutions for clients focus on communication with and between both patient and non-patient clients. For instance: peer group communication, patients’ access to their records, and on-demand information services to clients.
Secondly, solutions for healthcare providers propose the application of digital technologies in areas such as health workers training, onboarding and offboarding, health providers’ record management systems and decision-making processes.
Thirdly, the solutions for healthcare systems and resource management cluster digital instruments focusing on non-medical functions of the health care system such as human resource management, supply chain management and health financing.
Lastly, solutions for data services reflect cross-departmental functionality to support healthcare data collection, analysis, use, and management activities.
This series will further discuss the individual intervention broadly using the results to map and cluster digital technologies in the German healthcare system (and later in the DACH region). Additionally, the discussion will be focused on placing the ‘human’ factor at the centre of the digital transformation. This is our approach towards digitalization, as demonstrated with our products and services.