Germany: Taking the successful-follower shortcut

A successful-follower strategy can help Germany address barriers in digital transformation and roll-out new services faster.

In a recent E-HEALTH-COM article, Armin Scheuer, founder of Lemonmint, and Joerg Studinski, Digital Projects Leader at Agaplesion Health System, emphasize that Germany must learn from other countries to speed-up digital transformation of healthcare. Although one of the world’s technologically most advanced nations, the country struggles to implement digitalization in healthcare despite decades of effort and billions of expenditures.

To improve digitalization in healthcare, the authors suggest a digital-first approach that leverages telemedicine and digital therapeutics to bring digitalization to the people. Consistent use of international terminologies and standards, such as SNOMED, LOINC, and FHIR, can provide a clear framework for research and development, including for industry.

“In Finland, data protection officers see themselves as service providers who enable solutions through a whitelist instead of preventing them with a blacklist.”

Additionally, data privacy regulations should be reexamined to prioritize usability, and bureaucracy should give way to the higher goal of better healthcare.

Taking the “successful-follower” shortcut

Germany can learn from international best practices and adapt successful approaches to local requirements. The authors suggests adjusting funding projects to reduce administrative and consulting costs and rewarding actors for improving their digital maturity level on the DigitalRadar score, which is the country’s digital assessment methodology for hospitals.

Finally, a cultural change towards a “Digital Health Society” must be supported through comprehensive communication to emancipate citizens and health providers, allowing them to independently decide on digital offerings.

The authors of the article, Armin Scheuer and Joerg Studzinski have initiated Germany’s national digital maturity assessment of more than 1,600 hospitals.