Digitalization is changing the healthcare system: E-Health combines the latest IT technologies with medicine. The aim is to offer modern, patient-friendly care. Armin Häuser, Managing Director of the Competence Center for Telemedicine and E-Health, and project collaborator Susanne Tran, explains in this interview why digitalization is becoming increasingly important in patient care and how it can contribute to relieving the burden on medical personnel.
What does digital transformation mean in health, and why is digitalization so important?
Armin Häuser: To me, digital transformation means progress in patient care and relief for medical staff members. In concrete terms, the focus remains on the patient and the quality of treatment. At the same time, the population is becoming older, which pushes the healthcare system to its limits, especially in times of a shortage of skilled workers. Telemedicine and e-health are not the only solutions, but they are good and important approaches.
The Competence Center for Telemedicine and E-Health is an institution of the state of Hessen and aims to promote the use of digital technologies in health care. What exactly are the goals of the center?
Armin Häuser: The aim of the Competence Center is to advance digitization in the healthcare sector, and in particular to improve cross-sector electronic communication, in order to implement new and tailored forms of care and to establish needs-based supply chains with the help of telemedicine and e-health solutions.
Furthermore, the effectiveness and functionality of information and communication technologies will be promoted and the establishment and expansion of national and international cooperation supported. The development of concepts and guidelines as well as assistance in solving problems will be carried out without advertising for specific software products or the development of one’s own.
The Competence Center for Telemedicine and E-Health of the State of Hessen advises and supports the state government on…
- the digitalization of the health sector and thus the improvement of cross-sectoral electronic communication in the health sector;
- the implementation of new, demand-oriented forms of care and the design of demand-oriented supply chains using telemedicine and e-health solutions;
- questions about the functionality and effectiveness of information and communication technologies;
- aspects and factors affecting the development, operation, use and integration of digital systems and applications;
- the establishment and expansion of national and international cooperations;
- legal and normative requirements for medical products (MPG, FDA); and
- the evaluation of project proposals and projects (technical analyses, advice, opinion).
Why did you choose Central Hessen as your location?
Susanne Tran: The Central Hessen region is attractive because the Competence Center is a university cooperative. Both universities, the Technical University of Mittelhessen and Justus Liebig University, have their headquarters here and contribute their special abilities. As well, there are especially many representatives from the Central Hessen health services who we have as our target group. We want to be part of local partnerships, in dialogue with regional physicians, medical supply centers and hospitals.
Which partners do you work with?
Susanne Tran: Our target groups are doctors and doctors’ networks, hospitals, health insurance companies, pharmacies and medical supply stores, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and rescue services. As mentioned above, the Competence Center is an inter-university institution in cooperation with the Technology University of Mittelhessen and Justus Liebig University, which is supported by the Hessian Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration.
How does a partnership come together and how does collaboration work?
Susanne Tran: A consultation at the Competence Center usually begins with contacting us by e-mail or using the enquiry form on our website. However, it’s also possible to contact us personally by telephone or at trade fairs and events. This is followed by personal meetings. We can visit the client, so that practice procedures can be viewed there. The consultation is also possible in our offices in Giessen. During a personal meeting, the focal points of the consultation are explained, and the wishes and goals of the consultation are recorded. On this basis, we develop a consulting concept. After the consultation and assistance has taken place, the objectives of the consultation are reviewed, and the consultation is concluded. After some time, we ask for further advice.
Where do you see the Competence Center in 5 years?
Armin Häuser: Currently, our sponsorship period is limited to the end of 2019. The Competence Center has already established itself very well in its short existence, and it has carried out many consultations and established contacts, so we hope this support will continue and expand. Promising ideas are already available regarding how the Competence Center can continue to be used successfully in the great task of digitalization in the healthcare sector.