One topic is currently on the minds of hospital administrators like no other: the digitization of systems and work processes. Legal requirements and subsidies are intended to define the framework and possibilities for hospitals. In Germany, the Hospital Futures Act (KHZG) was created for this purpose.
However, implementation is difficult: many hospitals do not have a clear digital strategy. In the end, it’s not just tablets in staff lockers that must be used, but process improvements and standardizations that should lead to more efficient hospitals with lean administration.
In the webinar "Digitalization in Hospitals," Dr. Benedict Gross, Senior Manager at PWC Germany, talks about the challenges and opportunities of digitizing hospitals in Germany. What do you need to know, what do doctors and staff think about digitalization and what solutions are available?
What is the Hospital Futures Act and what is it supposed to achieve?
The German federal and state governments have been providing a total of 4.3 billion euros under the Hospital Future Fund since January 2021. Applications for funding must be submitted to the Federal Social Security Office by the end of 2021.
The funding covers investments in modern emergency facilities and measures to improve the digital infrastructure. These include, for example, electronic patient portals, digital documentation, medication management, telemedical network structures and IT security measures. The latter must account for at least 15 percent of the approved funding. Associated personnel measures are also covered by the .
The aim is to improve patient care and the security of systems in hospitals.
What challenges do German hospitals face in implementing the KHZG?
The need for modernization at hospitals is enormous. "Over the last few decades, an investment backlog in German hospitals has meant that hospital data centers are anything but up-to-date and modern," says Gross. "There simply hasn't been money to invest in modern infrastructure or build IT teams."
That's why funding is being made available through programs such as the Hospital Future Act. The funding amount of 4.3 billion euros means an average of two million euros per hospital in Germany. Per bed, around 8,000 euros could be distributed arithmetically. "Depending on the size of the hospital, that can be a lot," Gross comments, "or very little, for example, if it's a university hospital that actually needs ten times that amount of funding."
The federal allocation of funds by the states complicates the funding process. "In the fall, the Hospital Future Actwill celebrate its first birthday - without one cent having gone to a hospital," Gross notes.