With around 4.4 million employees and annual revenues of €254 billion, the health sector is currently one of the biggest business sectors in Germany.24 Health care as a whole is under enormous pressure to increase efficiency substantially in future: three in ten ICT executives in the health sector see health care funding as the most outstanding and pressing challenge in the next few years (top position with 29% selections), followed by the far-reaching issue of prevention (19%) and the task of achieving cost savings while maintaining present care quality (18%). Around one in ten of the health sector executives surveyed (11%) sees the main challenge in the development of eMedicine, i.e. topics such as remote consultations and remote diagnostics (see Figure 7-5). This area of ICT-aided telemedicine is also identified by the members of the think tank as a key future field. Jonas Schreyögg, Professor of Health Services Management at the University of Munich, sees this as being a large growth area: “Developments like telemedicine and ICT-aided electronic health records will fundamentally change the health care system.” Christophe Châlons, Chief Analyst of the PAC Group, is also certain that ICT will make a substantial contribution to process optimization and cost reduction in the health care system.
“Developments like telemedicine and ICT-aided electronic health records will fundamentally change the health care system. I see this as being a very large growth area.“
Professor Jonas Schreyögg, Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich
“ICT can make a substantial contribution to process optimization and cost reduction in the health care system.”
Christophe Châlons, Chief Analyst, PAC Group
The introduction of an electronic health card would lead to cost savings, which according to conservative estimates could be in the region of several billion euros in Germany alone. The new chip card could be used to network doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and health insurance providers, thus helping to reduce paperwork and benefiting the entire health care system.
Not only the health care system would benefit from the introduction of electronic health cards: There would also be tangible benefits for patients, say both the ICT executives and the consumers. 77 percent of both of these groups are convinced that electronic health cards will bring important advantages for patients. In Spain 91 percent of consumers believe in the advantages of the electronic health card, 79 percent each in France and the United States, and 75 percent in the United Kingdom. The ICT executives and consumers surveyed in Germany were a little less enthusiastic, with 61 percent agreement in the top 2 boxes.
77% of consumers are convinced that electronic health cards will bring important benefits for patients.
One of the most interesting aspects of the electronic health card in the opinion of the consumers is that it would allow emergency services and paramedics to access relevant medical data (e.g. previous illnesses and conditions) or help to avoid being prescribed the wrong drugs by storing information about allergies or intolerances on the card (chosen by 85% and 83% in the top 2 boxes). For 80 percent of consumers avoiding multiple repeat examinations is another interesting benefit of the electronic health card. However, consumers are skeptical about the security aspects of these cards: Only 46 percent believe that electronic health cards are secure.
According to the ICT executives, the advantages of the increasing use of ICT in the health care sector lie in a better quality of treatment (selected by 31%), lower workloads for health care professionals (18%) and general cost savings for doctors and patients (16%) (see Figure 7-6).
24 Data from the German Federal Ministry of Health