In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Georg Baum talks about investments in hospital digitization and illustrates the role the coronavirus pandemic plays in this setting.
Mr. Baum, what is the goal of the "Program to Future-Proof Hospitals"?
Georg Baum: It aims to promote IT and digitization measures in hospitals. It became evident that the federal state budget of three billion euros annually only covers about half of investments German hospitals need. The coronavirus pandemic and other factors have prompted new and increased requirements pertaining to IT, IT security, digitization, and the introduction of digital processes. There were not enough investments allocated to hospitals, and it was high time to make a change.
The budget has now been increased by a one-time payment of 3 billion euros from the German federal government and 1.3 billion euros from its federal states. This means that several long-awaited modernization goals can now likely be achieved. This includes measures to improve infection prevention and control, and pandemic-related healthcare. One example is the conversion of multi-occupancy rooms into single or double occupancy rooms.
Did the coronavirus pandemic reveal weak points that need improvement?
Baum: We saw the importance of close collaboration for hospitals and this necessitates a shared IT structure and cloud systems. Funds are allocated to build these types of networks. However, IT also improves communication between other healthcare sectors, especially public health departments and practicing physicians. This has proven to be challenging amid the pandemic.
For the past few months, we have been using the DIVI (German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine) intensive care registry to ensure quick communication and visibility of available intensive care beds in hospitals across Germany. A short-term ordinance at the beginning of the pandemic made this possible. I think it makes good sense to set clear structures to facilitate a daily updated emergency care capacities overview.
Apart from preparing for a pandemic response, measures to increase IT security and improve cybersecurity strategies to prevent unauthorized access are equally crucial. Digital medication management is another vital component to guarantee safe medication administration to patients. None of these measures can be accomplished with the regular allotted investments.