German Hospitals in the Cloud: Expert report sheds light on opportunities and challenges

Public Clouds are no longer a novelty in German hospitals but have become indispensable in many cases. The steadily growing integration of cloud services into administrative and organizational processes, accelerated by initiatives like the KHZG (Hospital Future Act), highlights the relevance of this technology. However, many hospitals still face significant questions and challenges in their implementation. Find the complete report here (in GERMAN).

A recent report from the Berlin-based HealthTech Communications Hub, Lemonmint, in collaboration with Nuance Communications, a Microsoft company, offers insights into the subject. The report, based on six expert discussions, analyzes the requirements, barriers, and experiences of hospitals dealing with the cloud.

Key challenges to cloud-introduction in German hospitals. (c) Lemonmint 2023. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock.

“We are at a decisive point where hospitals in Germany can pursue innovative cloud services with more clarity and security. In the course of the KHZG, the vast majority of hospitals have requested funding for projects and services related to cloud computing. It is now to be hoped that upcoming data usage and digital laws will further strengthen the foundation for cloud usage,” says Armin Scheuer, founder of Lemonmint.

Dr. Markus Vogel, Chief Medical Information Officer at Nuance, emphasizes the pivotal role of cloud technology in modernizing healthcare: “Using the cloud enables innovative applications like Large Language Models (LLM), which have the potential to interpret and process medical data in a new and structured way. The cloud must, therefore, be universally and easily accessible. How can we accelerate progress? National and European politics must provide clear and realistic guidelines for cloud usage.”

Legal clarity is the turning point for cloud use

Experts demand clarification of the legal framework at the national and EU level, especially in light of the shortage of skilled workers in hospital IT, to enable the efficient implementation of cloud projects. Here, a wider distribution of cloud certification based on BSI criteria would also be helpful as it increases transparency and legal certainty.

The experts point out that cybersecurity risks increase with growing digitalization. Therefore, data security in the cloud should be objectively assessed, as large cloud providers can, for example, guarantee a high level of security far beyond the capabilities of hospitals.

Another important aspect is the adaptation of funding programs; these should promote not only the procurement but also the operating costs to accelerate the introduction of innovative cloud services. While this is the case with KHZG, state funding programs still need to catch up.

The growing self-perception of hospital IT as a strategic organization in hospital management, promoted by cloud use, is also emphasized.

Forward-looking steps in the digital age

The current progress and challenges presented in Lemonmint’s report “Hospital in the Cloud: What We Need” show that the use of cloud technology in healthcare is advancing, raising high expectations for new forms of medical practice. The KHZG has created important prerequisites in this regard. However, hospitals in this country are just beginning to use the cloud. To find the right balance between technology, patient care, and data protection, close cooperation between industry experts and political decision-makers will be necessary in addition to regulatory initiatives.

Find the complete report here (in GERMAN).