Patient portals: “We can reap the full benefits“
With the arrival of the Hospital Future Act (KHZG), patient portals for hospitals have suddenly become a hot topic. For Admir Kulin, founder and managing director of m.Doc, this is not at all a surprise. At the virtual DMEA 2021 the company is showing what patient-focused platforms can and must be able to achieve for emergency hospitals and rehab clinics – und how they are integrated into the IT environment of medical facilities.
Five years ago in 2016 when you established m.Doc, you explicitly wanted to focus on patients, which was why you concentrated on patient portals. Are you happy they are attracting so much attention now?
Of course we are happy. It was about time. I myself have been dealing with telemedicine for almost ten years. In 2016 when we established m.Doc, we concentrated on hospitals and rehab clinics and set up the m.Doc Smart Clinic, a patient-focused platform that as a digital patient-focused application fulfils the KHZG’s funding requirements under Section 2. Our advantage is that we can present a fully-fledged product with around 35 modules and applications that is being put to productive use in numerous emergency hospitals, rehab clinics and university hospitals. We can reap the full benefits of our customers’ experiences and will definitely be doing so at DMEA.
How has product demand developed lately? Has the Hospital Future Act affected it?
Demand has skyrocketed. Patient portals are currently a hot topic in the hospital IT field. It really does concern the entire market spectrum, from every type of hospital to minor specialist clinics and extends across all sectors. The KHZG has definitely set some fascinating developments in motion, although I am not really surprised.
Which functions specifically are most in demand?
That depends a bit on the criteria of the KHZG. All kinds of questions upon registration are in demand, documents with digital signatures, questionnaires such as PROMS, patient-worded medical history, diaries, everything to do with making appointments, a chat function and meal timetables. There is keen interest in video consultations, as well as a tool we call the Patient Journey Designer. Depending on the type of appointment or a diagnosis, this can be used to create a patient record. It makes global patient monitoring possible, which is of great interest to many facilities.
What helps to make a successful patient portal? Buying it is surely only the halfway stage.
At a hospital or rehab clinic, when a patient portal arrives so do other processes. If patients have completed some of the registration formalities at home then hospitals have to adjust. When patients are involved in the digital process it means a facility has to change in other areas too. As with every other changeover, an important factor is successfully managing the transition. There has to be motivation among employees, involvement at managerial level, and ideally the portal should be declared a management responsibility. Naturally, there are also technical success factors, mainly interoperability in this case.
Seamless integration of a patient portal into an existing system environment is imperative. How does m.Doc handle the question of interoperability?
The digital transformation of the healthcare system involves everyone. Isolated standalone systems are no longer relevant. Our platform is completely open. We are cooperating with numerous HIS providers, including large ones, and accordingly have numerous interfaces that can be used immediately. We can handle decentralised and centralised HIS set-ups. We frequently work with HL7 v3, but are also focusing on FHIR. Last year for instance, we commissioned a large system in Switzerland based entirely on FHIR interfaces. It is important to note that interoperability does not only mean HIS set-ups. Specifically in rehab clinics, many other systems have to link up to a portal, treatment planning tools for example. We adapt to the situation in question and ultimately can connect up almost anything.
What are your expectations of this year’s DMEA? What will you be focusing on?
DMEA has been an important trade fair for meeting customers since we came into existence. The company has grown considerably of late, which is why we are also a Gold Partner for the first time this year. We want our customers to have their say in as many areas as possible, including at live presentations. That is the best way to demonstrate our portal’s added value. We are also bringing some innovations to the event that we are showing for the first time, including our new upfront portal, a live debut we are greatly looking forward to, as well as a Smart Reporting function and an extension of the digital signature feature.