Toxic mindsets: “Doctors who digitize their work are techies and tinkerers.”

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

For most doctors in private practice, it is clear: colleagues who are already involved with digitisation – i.e. the possibilities outside the TI specifications – are technology freaks and tinkerers. But the reality is different: they are „normal“ physicians, but with foresight, innovative spirit and entrepreneurial qualities.

Who are the digital doctors?

While 90% of practising physicians have so far paid almost no attention to the topic of „digitalisation“, the remaining 10% have started to deal with the topic in detail and intensively. But what characterises these doctors and what distinguishes them from the masses?

The first striking feature of this group of people is – contrary to the assumptions of most colleagues – that they are not technology-obsessed, „tinkerers“ or even „freaks“, but quite normal doctors. However, they do have a clear affinity for technology, because they recognised early on what benefits electronic aids and procedures can offer them and have systematically integrated this option into their practice strategy.

Technology has always been a help

The guiding motives here were both the improvement of the quality of care for their patients and the increase of their own work efficiency in order to create freedom for themselves through this. Thus, most of them have always had the latest practice software systems, have been working with electronic records for a long time and have invested in their hardware architecture in order to network all workplaces of their businesses synergistically. Likewise, the use of voice systems, e-mail communication or professional use of the practice homepage are part of their digital repertoire.

Digitalisation takes place individually

The type of tools and procedures used varies greatly in the individual practices, because although the early adopters have all recognised the potential that digitalisation can offer them in principle, the solutions are selected individually according to the practice’s circumstances, patient clientele and their own needs and interests. Their behaviour is thus in direct contrast to the argument of the opponents of digitisation, who oppose the transformation because, in their view, it is a „one size fits all“ concept that leaves hardly any freedom.

Testing new things on their own initiative

Another characteristic of early adopters is their eagerness to experiment, which stands in stark contrast to the general behaviour in the outpatient sector. Here, changes usually take place collectively by directive – the introduction of quality management and the medication plan are examples of this – and always take place according to the same operational criteria: who reimburses the costs and how is the billing done? The cost aspect is also relevant for the early adopters, but they think in perspective and do not expect the return of funds directly in the next fee settlement.

Functioning processes and concrete experience

In addition to the mental attitude for innovations, they also possess the operational basis for this, which most of their colleagues lack: an excellently functioning practice management. The motivation for their early engagement with digitalisation is the strategic consideration to proactively, productively and with foresight expand the technology status they have already achieved through concrete experiences with new options. This behaviour also clearly sets them apart from the mass of doctors, whose criticism of digitalisation is predominantly theoretical and sweepingly dismissive.

At the same time, the early adopters are no less critical than the sceptics; data protection and all other issues surrounding the use of new technologies in medical practices are also an important topic for them.

Friends with Dr. Google

Furthermore, they have no contact fears with patients who obtain information from internet sources or refer to their wearable data. While the majority of medical professionals still lament what they see as the adverse effects of Dr Google, early adopters have accepted this behaviour as a normal development. Above all, they have recognised that it is an expression of an increased commitment to health, which – if implemented in a channelled way – should even be encouraged.