Digitisation of the medical practice: there will be no reduction in workload

What it’s all about

One positive aspect that is always expected in the context of digitalisation is the reduction of workload for doctors and medical assistants. But in the overall work balance, the activities that are eliminated by automation are offset by new work that is added.

Leverage reduction through automation

Physicians in private practice and medical assistants who are interested in the possibilities of digitalisation assume that the transformation will lead to a noticeable reduction in the workload for all those involved through diverse automation processes. This expectation is also always prominently featured in topic-related reporting. If you look at individual digital solutions, this is also the case, because patients

  • no longer have to come to the practice for certain examinations,
  • more complex activities, such as the long-term monitoring of vital data, become easier through the use of apps or sensors, and data can be exchanged more quickly.
  • data can be exchanged more quickly.

Work is eliminated and new ones are added

The relief function of technology does indeed exist, but at the same time – and this has been given far too little thought so far – its use also results in new activities. If we take the scenario of data monitoring as an example, the patients concerned will transfer their data at very different times, sometimes outside of office hours because they are at work. Many aspects of data processing in the practice are of course handled by the technology, e.g. the allocation to the electronic patient file and the notification of receipt. Nevertheless, there is a need for „monitoring of the monitoring“: the digital medical assistants must regularly check whether all patients have actually sent their data and remind them to provide it if necessary, which there will be in any case.

Behind the technology are the patients with questions

Furthermore, technical problems of the patients have to be clarified, but also a multitude of concerned queries when unusual, out-of-norm individual values occur. These are to be received and checked, and if necessary an appointment for a video consultation or a personal contact is to be made. The additional activities are supplemented by the determination and documentation of data collection failures due to holidays or illness.Depending on the diagnostic-therapeutic significance of the collected material, the doctor must

  • regularly check the progress,
  • intervene in case of critical deviations and
  • notify the patients to visit the practice.

Similar new activities are also emerging for other digital services.

The productivity and efficiency of digital technology depends on the organisational competence of the practice teams.

Overall, the digitalisation of practice management leads to the need for significant changes in practice routines, whereby the elimination of work steps due to the digital transformation and the need for new activities compensate for each other. What the concrete workload looks like is mainly influenced by how well the individual practice team manages to synergistically combine the overall process of practice activities – i.e. analogue and digital activities. In this respect, those practices that are already excellently positioned organisationally have an advantage. Those who do not have a functioning organisation before the transformation begins will have a very hard time meeting the new requirements.

Prospective assistance

are provided by the results of a Practice Management Business Comparison©, which outline the status of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the work as well as provide concrete possibilities for improvement.