Digitalization in the healthcare industry: It’s high time

The German Bundestag passed the E-Health Law in December, opening up the pathway towards storing patient data digitally on health cards. Great news! Digitalization often speeds along so fast that our legal processes can’t keep up. The E-Health Law, on the other hand, is one example of the fact that things can go quicker. Passed by the Federal Cabinet in May, it passed the Bundestag at the beginning of December in its first reading.


All data on one chip

The advantages for the healthcare industry are enormous, and could even save lives in some cases. Chips included in patient health cards will alert doctors about existing illnesses, medications, or allergies during emergencies in the future. This way, they’ll know all about the patient, even if he arrives disoriented or unable to communicate. As long as German law respects data security, not even the “mega data collection” feared by critics represents a truly threatening scenario.


High acceptance, even today

Doctors and patients are often much farther along in their thinking than data protection experts believe. 44 percent of doctors, according to a survey by the “Ärzte-Zeitung,” believe that apps will be used to support everyday treatment in just a few years. These could help monitor patient health, especially if patients live far away from the doctor’s practice, as is common in rural areas.


Patients are just as open to new technologies, as a representative survey commissioned by a physician rating portal recently found. 80 percent would be happy to book their appointments online, 63 percent would prefer to order their prescriptions online, and 27 percent would even take advantage of an online consultation. The most positive result, from EASY’s point of view, was that 39 percent of patients are in favour of digital patient files.


Are things speeding up?

With so much support, we can only hope that digitalization in the healthcare industry can really take off following the new E-Health Act. We hope that interoperable, digital patient files can become the norm in hospitals and doctor’s practices everywhere, and that the new health card will soon become a true “patient file to go.”


This will be nothing but beneficial for patient care, even as it lowers costs. In Switzerland, for example, PwC assumes that digitalization of communication between doctors and hospitals could lower process costs by 90 percent. This little alpine democracy, with a tenth of Germany’s population, could save 100 million Swiss francs per year. How much could Germany save?