Healthcare policymakers are demanding greater cooperation in the organisation of outpatient care and closer networking among the relevant sectors responsible for patient care. A new specialist medical outpatient care sector is currently being set up that will make it mandatory for resident practitioners and hospitals to cooperate. Furthermore, healthcare insurances and statutory health insurance-registered physicians also support networking among doctors and regional cooperation among service providers.
Numerous business models demonstrate successful use of IT-based communications in outpatient care
In certain areas regional patient care networking is functioning well using IT-based systems. At the conhIT 2014 Congress, the meeting place of the Health IT industry, a session entitled "IT Integration in medical outpatient care" (7 May 2014, 11.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.) will present and discuss practical examples.
In recent years a large teleradiology network (Westdeutscher Teleradiologieverbund) has been set up in North Rhine Westphalia, which has made it possible to exchange CT and MRT images and obtain second expert opinions from the relevant specialists. Another example is the secure network of the associations of statutory health insurance physicians, whose functions include settling invoices electronically with health insurances and which provides a direct medical information communication service between doctors’ practices. Under the acronym of KV-CONNECT the associations of statutory health insurance physicians are currently developing new specifications in order to facilitate an even more seamless integration into IT systems for doctors' practices. Health insurances are also working to integrate IT in outpatient care. Thus, an IT interface has been established for selective contracts which will make it possible for doctors and health insurances to settle invoices electronically as part of a new, integrated patient care scenario.
Interoperability is a pressing issue
Naturally, many problems remain unsolved. "Over the coming decade we would like to see IT providers giving even more attention to system interoperability," says Dr. Christian Peters, who is head of Outpatient Care at AOK Health Insurance, and together with a representative of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurances is chairing the conhIT session on IT Integration in medical outpatient care.
According to Peters, invoicing procedures for new types of patient care are in need of improvement. Thus, within the medical outpatient care sector it should be possible to settle invoices electronically via the associations of statutory health insurance physicians as well as health insurances. There is also a clear lack of communication of medical data, which is extremely important for doctors' networks. Currently, uniform, cross-sectoral interfaces for communicating data between IT systems are not yet available with every software product intended for the job. However, changes are currently afoot. The coalition agreement of the governing parties of CDU and SPD has already said it will address this issue.
Events on the subject at conhIT 2014
The conhIT programme features numerous other events on the topic of interoperability in outpatient care. They include the following:
6 May 2014:
- Panel discussion: IHE – What else?
7 May 2014:
- Congress session 11: 'IT integration in medical outpatient care
- Panel discussion: Medical classifications and terminologies at the focus of the healthcare system - is the time ripe for this?'
- Panel discussion. IHE - the interop bridge: What manufacturers and users (have to) do
- Workshop: The importance of interoperability: challenges & opportunities / the status today and future trends
- Guided tour: Digital filing systems
8 May 2014:
- Congress session 14: Medical documentation systems in Europe
- Congress session 15: Interoperability and system integration
About conhIT - Connecting Health IT
conhIT targets decision-makers in IT departments, management, in the medical profession, nursing, doctors, doctors' networks and medical care centres who need to find out about the latest developments in IT and healthcare, meet members of the industry and make use of opportunities for high-level advanced training. As an integrated event, over a period of three days conhIT combines an Industrial Fair, a Congress and Networking Events that are of particular interest to this sector. Launched in 2008 by the German Association of Health IT Vendors (bvitg) as the meeting place for the health IT industry and organised by Messe Berlin, this event recently recorded 320 exhibitors and 5,980 visitors in 2013 and has now become Europe's leading event for the health IT sector.
conhIT is organised in cooperation with the following industry associations: the German Association of Healthcare IT Vendors (bvitg), the German Association for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology (gmds), the German Association of Medical Computer Scientists (BVMI). The National Association of Hospital IT Managers (KH-IT) and the Working Group of Directors of Medical Computing Centres at German University Clinics (ALKRZ) have provided contributions to the subject matter.