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“The healthcare system will change radically”

Man wears blue jacket with white shirt.

Gottfried Ludewig, head of the global T-Systems healthcare division.

With digital identities, new communication channels and large language models, a breath of fresh air is coming to the German healthcare system. Gottfried Ludewig, head of the global T-Systems healthcare division, is convinced of this. At DMEA 2024, the Telekom subsidiary will show how added value is created – for hospitals, health insurance companies and patients.

According to Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, Germany is a “developing country” when it comes to the digitalization of the healthcare system. Would you agree with that?

With his digital laws, the minister has continued the progress made in the last legislative period and is making bold further developments. This will also strengthen Germany as a location. In this respect, a lot of development has already taken place and we are now starting to push forward this development further. In this sense, the term developing country is correct. For example, the electronic prescription, the electronic certificate of incapacity for work and the digital health applications are positive. However, compared to other countries, we are ten to fifteen years behind in the digitalization of the healthcare system. So no one should sit back and relax. On the contrary: we have to speed up significantly. Debates about the absurdities of German federalism, including the interpretation of the European General Data Protection Regulation by 16 state data protection officers, should be a thing of the past as quickly as possible.

The electronic prescription is a novelty, but the digital identities that have been issued by health insurance companies since the beginning of 2024 have been different. Why are they so important?

In the end, without a digital identity, no process will be able to be completely digital. At some point I have to prove that I really am who I say I am, and if that can't be done digitally, I have to print out paper or walk to an office somewhere. If I want to use electronic prescriptions on my smartphone or PC or submit reimbursement applications to the health insurance company or check in at the hospital, I need a digital identity. I think the introduction of a uniform digital identity is an absolute game changer. It is worth noting that the German healthcare system is actually a pioneer when it comes to digital identities. We should keep up this pace.

Telekom's digital identity is used by the Barmer health insurance company, among others. What is special about your solution?

It was important to us that with digital identity you don't have to constantly hold plastic cards to your smartphone. This is an unsatisfactory hybrid process. That’s why we rely on a wallet solution. This is very easy to use for everyone. In addition, when developing digital identity, we have always been guided by where things are going in Europe. Our system is designed so that regulatory adjustments can be implemented immediately. Our solution is characterized by technological openness and simplicity.

Another hot topic is communication channels, specifically the TI Messenger initiated by gematik. It is aimed at medical institutions, but also addresses communication with patients and insured persons. You also have a solution for this in your portfolio. Are you presenting these at DMEA?

Absolutely. The DMEA has opened up significantly and is no longer just aimed at hospitals, but at the entire healthcare system. A development that we expressly welcome. That's why DMEA is the right platform to present our TI Messenger. The TI Messenger is the first product to adopt the new thinking of a telematics infrastructure 2.0, i.e. a more software-based architecture. There will be a secure, easily accessible communication channel in the healthcare system with which clinical staff and practicing doctors can easily communicate and exchange data with each other, but also with patients and insured persons. This is completely new. If this messenger also uses generative AI and hyper-automation in the future, the healthcare system will radically change. The TI Messenger plays a central role because it defines a clear and secure communication channel for all stakeholders – including health insurance companies. This will be used by many people.

Unlike many other companies in the DMEA, Telekom is also strong in the consumer sector. Let's speculate a little: What specific patient-side applications could come? And what will be on display at your stand at DMEA?

The imagination knows no limits. The first obvious communication channel is a messenger app that can be used to communicate with the doctor, but also with the health insurance company, which is used to make appointments and much more. This becomes more exciting when processes are stored with AI: I no longer have to laboriously go online to open appointment software and look for a doctor's appointment, but instead ask the application: When are possible appointments? I then book the appointment immediately and it is automatically added to my calendar. That's only an example. I'm excited to see what applications we'll see in the end.

As far as the connection with large language models, LLM for short, we will be able to show a lot at the DMEA, especially for health insurance companies. I invite everyone who is interested to come to our DMEA stand A-103 in Hall 3.2 to see live and in color how we optimize processes end-to-end with AI support. And that both internally and towards the customer. We make generative AI applicable to social and health data, including data protection-compliant encapsulation and, not unimportantly, openness to different models. If you only get into bed with one provider for the LLM, it quickly becomes expensive.

An important target group of the DMEA are hospitals, which are currently severely affected by a shortage of skilled workers and financial worries. They are in the running in the hospital sector with a Hospital Information System (HIS) and cloud offerings. What will be the focus of DMEA for clinical customers?

In the HIS area we show our extremely flexible HIS iMedOne in all its facets. We are not, like others, concerned with supporting our system solely through interface costs. We offer a core system for a modular, interoperable world. I'm sure it will become more and more attractive because it helps bring process automation and innovation into the hospital.

We will also show how we support hospitals in their transformation beyond the HIS. This becomes relevant not least because of SAP's discontinuation of ISH. The trend is towards cloud-based SAP environments. As one of the world's leading SAP partners and a Premium Supplier for ‘RISE with SAP’, we are at the forefront in the implementation of health and social data.

The third point is security. This will be one of the absolute top topics of the next few years. I fear that sooner or later we will see hospital bankruptcies that are partly caused by IT attacks. Our Telekom Security department, with around 1,700 employees, not only takes care of the cybersecurity of many DAX-listed medium-sized and small businesses, but also offers solutions for many players in the healthcare sector.

As a telecommunications group, we are a particularly strong partner in supporting our customers end-to-end in the areas of digitalization with leading technology, the highest standards in the areas of user experience and security, as well as comprehensive transformation expertise.