Between investment and bankruptcy

Why hospitals should improve their IT now

The economic situation of German hospitals is often not good. The recently published Hospital Rating Report 2021 shows, for example, that 13 percent of clinics are in the “red zone” - that is, they are at greater risk of bankruptcy. By 2030, this number could even rise to 26 percent, according to the forecast.

Corona and aid measures have made the situation even more complex, but some problems have persisted for years - for example in IT. We keep hearing that. For years we have been advising many clinic associations and large hospitals as well as smaller clinics and equipping them with an IT management system based on open source. The GAIA-X program, among others, calls for such solutions - but for many clinics this is also completely new territory.

IT is omnipresent

"Our field of application is limited to IT, but it is used everywhere. Be it planning work processes, building services or technical maintenance of medical devices. With a project like this, we are on the road in all departments. We exchange ideas with the employees and get an insight into the daily processes. Our experience is consistent with the hospital rating reports of recent years: Small budgets, bad investments and outdated IT make life difficult for employees." Rico Barth, managing director cape IT.

The authors of the Rating Report include well-known doctors and scientists from the health sector - their forecasts are an important source of development trends. If there are no extensive optimizations in the structures and processes of the hospitals, around three quarters of all clinics would lose money by 2022. This could at least happen after the “restart” scenario in the current report. German clinics have long been in an economic downward spiral. One of the main reasons is that outpatient therapies are preferred and hospital stays are shortened. The medical services of the health insurance companies demand this, but the shortage of skilled workers also does the rest. Due to the steady decline in the number of patients on the wards, small hospitals in particular are often no longer able to work profitably.

German clinics have long been in an economic downward spiral. One of the main reasons is that outpatient therapies are preferred and hospital stays are shortened. The medical services of the health insurance companies demand this, but the shortage of skilled workers also does the rest. Due to the steady decline in the number of patients on the wards, small hospitals in particular are often no longer able to work profitably.


Immense differences between large and small hospitals

"We observe big differences between large and small hospitals. While large facilities, for example in city centers, have the latest technology and IT, things are much worse at small or municipal clinics. They have to pay close attention to how they deal with investments Plan sustainably, which does not always succeed. This is in line with the results of the last hospital rating report, where larger hospitals receive a better rating in most cases." estimates Rico Barth.

In order to curb the growing gap between premium income and benefit expenditure, experts suggest further accelerating the centralization and specialization of the hospital sector. Rural regions in particular could benefit from this. One of the most important demands is accelerated digitization. "Cross-sector care and digitization are important building blocks for improving the situation of clinics and patients" says Prof. Dr. Boris Augurzky, one of the authors of the report. And his colleague Dr. Sebastian Krolop adds: "The prerequisite for all digital connections, however, is standardization of the data and interfaces."


Invest sensibly in modern IT software

One reason for this is that small hospitals invest their IT budget in outdated systems or repair patches. Especially when money is tight, those responsible should deal with the requirements and get intensive advice from experts. After all, every new medical device has to be integrated into the system and serviced. Rico Barth: "We see again and again that this often doesn't happen. If we are called to such a request, we often find outdated software or unnecessary programs. Of course, they have to be kept up to date, which only costs time and additional money The aim should always be to offer smaller hospitals options that are standard elsewhere."

Even in smaller hospitals with a manageable budget, the technology and IT must function smoothly at all times, because vital decisions can depend on the patient information system alone. And these clinics could make a big difference in just a few steps. In most cases, those responsible opt for our free system at the beginning. This initially ensures a better overview and structure of the IT teams. You can use it to see where there is a lot of work to be done or where disruptions occur frequently. The diverse tasks of hospital IT teams can thus be better prioritized and standardized. Planning!


Plan IT project and implement it successfully

Consultations over several days are part of a project. In this way, not only the IT managers can familiarize themselves with the system, but also the users such as nurses, carers and assistants. After the handover, the IT team can then adjust the system as required. The first measures usually include inventory management and fault reports, which is already an enormous help for the staff on site.

If those responsible would like to incorporate additional functions such as automatic inventory, device management or a maintenance plan for IT devices, you can also choose a Pro version. This means that medical and building technology, for example, can also be integrated into the system. Such a management system is then a decisive help, at the latest with the regularly pending certifications and audits. All malfunctions, maintenance, changes or updates are documented there and are available at the push of a button. This saves a lot of time and money in the end, especially in small hospitals.



 

Open Source is the future

"If we want to remain competitive in Germany and Europe, there is no way around open source-based systems. This shows the comparison with the USA or Asia. With GAIA-X, the first step has been taken to improve IT in hospitals, as well in the entire economic sector, to strengthen it with open source. It is now up to those responsible to implement this." sums up Rico Barth.


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