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Michael Waldbrenner

Release the digital handbrake in healthcare!

Germany is lagging behind when it comes to digital healthcare. However, the corona crisis, the Krankenhauszukunftsgesetz (KHZG) and the ever-increasing digital expectations of citizens mean that the brakes are also being relaxed here in this country. The future, says Michael Waldbrenner, Managing Director of Deutsche Telekom Clinical Solutions GmbH, belongs to cross-sector care scenarios that closely integrate all workflows, medical devices and patient devices. And in which the fax machine is only a vague memory from days long gone.

How important is the digital healthcare system to a broad-based solution provider like T-Systems, 14 months after the start of the Corona crisis?

We have always said that digital health is a core issue for us. Today, this is truer than ever. Strategically, we are much more broadly positioned than others because our solutions address patients, medical facilities and insurance companies. This is a huge competitive advantage in the integrated, cross-sector health market that is now emerging in Germany and elsewhere. We’ll make the most of this position. We were recognized as one of the leading providers of digital transformation services in the healthcare sector in the current ISG Provider Lens Report. We are in a better position than others who are often seen as pioneers. With the Corona warning app, which we developed together with SAP, we have shown what is digitally possible, but also what is possible under the current legislation.

What will Telekom Healthcare Solutions particularly focus on at the DMEA?

The big topic for hospitals is the Krankenhauszukunftsgesetz (KZHG). This is also our DMEA focus. We offer solutions eligible for the funding categories 1 to 6, 8 and 9, i.e. almost across the entire KHZG spectrum. Mobility concepts are in greatest demand. In addition, the networking of inpatient and outpatient facilities, as well as patient portals. As Telekom, we can offer these solutions alongside complementary infrastructure and security services. However, we also address areas of the KHZG such as hosting and cloud, so that we act as a full-service provider. This is very attractive for the hospitals, especially since the implementation of the KHZG is a real challenge. There is unwelcome fragmentation across the different federal states. It is important that hospitals and IT manufacturers are in the same boat. Both sides occasionally reach the limits of their capabilities, but in the end the KHZG represents a big step forward. The common "enemy" is the fax machine and we will defeat it. In the rehab area, we will also present our Reha.Complete solution.

The German healthcare system also wants to leave its past behind in other areas. When it comes to telematics infrastructure, TI 2.0 is on the horizon. Is this the right way?

We are looking forward to TI 2.0 because it will finally get us away from the hardware burden of the digitalization of the German healthcare system. Who still uses hardware tokens for RSA encryption today? This can now be achieved far more easily, for example by calling up the electronic health professional card via a mobile phone and using it to authenticate the user. A clear answer: TI 2.0 is a step in the right direction.

The ultimate goal of digitization in healthcare is not the digital hospital or the isolated TI, but a digital ecosystem that includes the patient and the “Internet of Medical Things”, can use a wide variety of data sources. When will we reach that point?

It is clear we need to release the digital handbrake in Germany. When I look at the legislation – the KHZG, but also the laws on digital health and care applications – I’m optimistic. It’s no secret what we need to do. With the new generation of our HIS, iMedOne NG, we have a large installation in South Africa in which all the modalities used in the hospital import their data directly into the HIS. We are still a long way from that in Germany. Nursing staff still enter values here by hand. That costs time which could be spent caring for patients. And the procedure also prevents automatic data analysis and is at the expense of patient safety. In short: there is still a lot of catching up to do in Germany, but we also see a clear spirit of optimism.

Is the current departure sustainable?

Indeed, that is a crucial question, and I believe it will cause some discussion at the DMEA as well. In Germany we have always tried big jumps, but with little substance. Thanks to KHZG, we have our substance for the next three years, but what happens after that? Are we going back to our IT budgets with their one to two percent of hospital sales, while other countries are five to eight percent? These are questions that the next federal government must discuss, at the latest. Maybe we need to start talking about completely different approaches to financing. “Population Health Management”, for example.

About Michael Waldbrenner

Since February 2014, Michael Waldbrenner has been managing director at Deutsche Telekom Clinical Solutions GmbH, formerly Brightone GmbH. Since 2013 he had been responsible for the healthcare IT sector as chairman at Brightone GmbH. With many years of experience as an international manager, he is an expert in the fields of change management and market entry strategies.

His career as an entrepreneur began in 1984 when he founded the IT company Waldbrenner, which became Tieto at the end of 2005. From 2006 to 2013, he worked in various areas of the company and held management positions, including as Director Global Sourcing in India and Director Healthcare in the Czech Republic, where he built up the healthcare business and its market entry. Most recently, he managed the Healthcare Central Europe unit at Tieto as Vice President and was responsible for activities in Europe.

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