“Patient involvement is a major topic“
Spurred on by the Hospital Future Act (KHZG), the modernisation of IT systems in German hospitals is in full swing. It is also a major topic at DMEA 2021. Thomas Simon, senior vice president, Clinical De-CH of CompuGroup Medical, sees patient portals as ultimately being an important investment in the future – not least because they can become an important link between hospitals and patients’ electronic files.
What is your view on the digital transformation being driven by the KHZG in the inpatient sector?
As well as us, the entire industry has long been signalling the need for a digitalisation offensive in the hospital sector. As such, it was high time for lawmakers to act, and we very much welcome that. What is clear however, is that there has to be parallel activity on many fronts now. In addition to KHZG projects, access to the telematics infrastructure and the introduction of the electronic patient file (ePA) are also on the agenda. That is not easy for customers, whose expectations of the industry are high. Nevertheless, for customers of CGM the KHZG has come at the right time. Three years ago, we launched CGM CLINICAL, a new generation of our Hospital Information System (HIS), and are now in an ideal position to manage the digitalisation initiatives supported by KHZG funding.
Which solutions are most in demand by customers?
There are several, mostly patient care documentation and electronic medication. Patient involvement in particular is a major topic, i.e. patient registration and discharge management as well as patient portals. Funding also exists for decision-making support systems, although in many hospitals information systems are not adequately equipped yet. Decision-making support systems need an HIS capable of properly accessing structured data. In that area too we have established a good basis with our open EHR-based CGM data model. That is something hospitals can expand on in the near future.
Involving patients via electronic files and patient portals has long been supported by CGM. How will that be reflected at the virtual DMEA?
CGM’s advantage is its cross-sectoral involvement with primary systems. We are a market leader in medical information systems. At the same time, we have a large HIS in the shape of CGM CLINICAL, and with CGM REHA we have a specialist system for rehab clinics. Against that backdrop the patient journey has always been important, and our customers naturally benefit from the patient-oriented solutions we continue to develop in our CGM CLICKDOC product suite. These include a calendar and video consultations as well as registration and discharge management. With a modern patient portal, a physician should be able to register a patient prior to admission, and upon discharge or referral all the relevant data and documentation should be available as and when needed. Patient portals will be an important topic for us at DMEA 2021, one that we will also be dealing with at our own partner session (8 June 2021, 11.30 a.m. – 12 noon).
Does this type of portal also connect with patients’ electronic files?
The KHZG’s funding guidelines are quite specific about what patient portals should be able to achieve. Ultimately, all the discharge management data that reach the patient portal need to be part of the electronic patient file, providing a patient has one. How the data are actually assembled in the file will be interesting to see. In January 2022 we will be switching from the document-based ePA 1.0 standard to ePA 2.0, with structured data. At that point at the latest, the question as to how patient portals connect with electronic patient files will become relevant.
Currently, the other big healthcare IT topic is access to the telematics infrastructure. What is the situation there with your customers?
From the start, CGM was at the forefront of the TI hardware rollout. Consequently, the physicians and pharmacists who are our customers are sufficiently well equipped. At present, we are waiting for approval of the PTV4 connectors required for the electronic patient file. When that happens, we will rapidly update the connectors for the outpatient sector. In the inpatient sector customers are holding back, as they are occupied with the KHZG. As far as TI applications are concerned, we will be supplying our resident customers in a timely manner. We are committed to that. At DMEA, we will be holding a virtual tour on how the telematics infrastructure can be used to improve safe drug treatment (on demand from 25 May 2021). Starting in July, a service giving medical practices access to ePA 1.0. will become available. In our view, the introduction in September of the electronic sick note will be absolutely secure. Nor do we see any problems with ePrescriptions. A fixed date for ePA 2.0, the electronic patient file version that works not only with documents, is not something we support. An introductory period should be set instead.