Toxic mindsets in outpatient medicine: Digitization as add-on or substitution

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

The focus of many discussions on the topic of „digitization of medical practice“ is the question of how primary care physicians and specialists can build digital competence. In this context, however, it is necessary to clear out toxic mindsets that steer the understanding of the matter in the wrong direction. One is the mindset that digital solutions will complement or replace what already exists.

The mindset to avoid change.

With this mindset, practice owners assume they don’t need to change anything about the fundamentals of their work. But that’s a mistake, of course, because without a transformation, digital applications can’t deliver any benefit at all.

And this is where the second problem arises: the processes and structures in GP and specialist practices are often characterized by a variety of misalignments, which are not seen, however, but are classified as inherent in the system and caused from the outside. However, an insufficiently functioning basis cannot be transformed; digital functionality always presupposes smooth analog functionality.

Far from best practice status.

However, general practitioners and specialists are a long way from this, because in German medical practices, on average, only just under half of the regulations, instruments and behaviors (best practice standard) are used that are necessary for smoothly functioning work even under changing pressures. Once established when a practice is founded, taken over or cooperated with, structures and processes are only rarely reviewed afterwards. If necessary, individual routines supplement the operational activities, but these are not integrated into the overall system of practice management, but serve merely as workarounds for coping with individual situations.

A simple solution

However, a largely realized implementation of the best practice standard is a prerequisite for a successful implementation of digital applications. This can be achieved easily and quickly with the help of the practice management benchmarking method. How it works and what it achieves is described in detail in the publication: „Benchmarking practice management for general practitioners and specialists – method, application and benefits“. It is free of charge for general practitioners and specialists; the code required for the free download can be requested by e-mail to, stating the practice address,