Six steps to help GPs and specialists deal with the topic of „digitalisation“ in a relaxed but targeted manner

Facts and figures on the German health care system.

What it’s all about

As our market research results show, there is currently a great deal of uncertainty among physicians in private practice about what they will face in the course of the transformation and, above all, how they should behave. The following six steps will help them find their own way:

1 Keep calm

Digitisation of the healthcare system is an opportunity to simultaneously improve the quality of care for patients and the quality of work for those involved. However, it also creates a market that is extremely attractive financially for providers of digital solutions. This is currently leading to a communicative hype in which facts, marketing arguments and self-dramatisation are difficult to distinguish from each other. Some doctors are so unsettled by this information density and its demanding character that they even throw themselves into projects that actually make no sense. It is better, however, to remain calm, but not to be inactive.

2 Ensure flexibility

A first important step is to align the practice work in such a way that it can be flexibly adapted to changing environmental conditions, which can also occur independently of digitalisation. This means identifying and eliminating misalignments in practice management in order to open up corresponding scope for action. Practice teams that are almost suffocating in the corset of day-to-day business are neither in a position to make decisions on digitisation in a considered manner nor can they introduce and use procedures and instruments beneficially. With the help of an orientation towards the best practice standard of practice management, which defines all regulations, instruments and behaviours that ensure a smoothly functioning practice work, the operationally and strategically necessary freedom can be developed most easily.

3 Make a fundamental decision

Furthermore, it is important to recognise the essence of digitalisation from a business perspective. The establishment of the TI and the planned follow-up projects do not represent „the“ digitalisation, as doctors often assume, but are the prerequisite for it. The actual transformation of the practice work is an individual strategic fundamental decision of each practice owner, for which a multitude of offers are available.If he decides to continue his practice in „analogue“ form, which can be an option if the performance positioning is suitable, he must, however, consider what consequences this decision is likely to have in a future digitalised environment, for example with regard to

  • patient care, retention and recruitment, as well as on
  • efficiency and productivity,
  • the possibility of attracting medical cooperation partners to his business, or
  • with regard to the value of the practice.

If the decision is made in favour of digitisation, it must be determined in which area(s), with which objective, with which tools and with which consequences (investments, staff qualification, etc.) an implementation should and can take place.

4 Determine what patients expect

Hardly any GP or specialist currently has an overview of what digital requirements their patients actually have, mostly assumptions replace facts. If the basic decision to transform is positive, it is initially appropriate to gain an insight into the wishes and ideas of the visitors to the practice in order to compare them with one’s own goals. Through this procedure, initial approaches can be generated without great effort, which support the practice work and contribute to directly increasing patient satisfaction.

5 Obtain information

Then the information phase begins. For this, it is advisable to focus on one aspect, e.g. on

  • individual patient requirements that have been identified,
  • a solution to relieve the burden on the practice organisation,
  • an approach to support diagnostic and therapeutic work in the context of the practice’s most important indication, or
  • the expansion of the interactive homepage functionality.

Subsequently, the corresponding alternative offers can be identified, compared and evaluated for a selection.

In parallel, the focus should always be on the practice software used:

  • Are all the options that can be realised with it actually already being used?
  • Does the system used offer future extensions for the integration of digital tools?

Isolated solutions that build up a second data pool in addition to the practice’s working system and require separate data management, e.g. communication apps, are to be avoided at all costs, as the additional effort required for operation is in poor relation to the benefits.

6 Gather experience with a pilot project

Once a possible digital setting with objectives and selected digital tool has been created, a pilot project is started to get a feeling for the type and scope of the set-up effort and for the conditions of operation. From here, next development steps for further tools can be taken.

The FlexibilityCheck

GPs and specialists who want to check whether their practice management meets all the necessary requirements for successful digitisation can use the Practice Management Comparison© for this purpose. The validated examination, which can be carried out without the need for an on-site consultant, requires only thirty minutes of medical working time and identifies an average of forty suggestions for improving practice work.