Leistungen // Laterales Management

a digital hospital? not here, thank you!

Hospitals account for the largest portion of health insurance funds’ expenditure. It is not surprising that health insurance funds are very keen to see hospitals being managed cost-efficiently – and hospitals have had to make substantial reforms in recent years.

However, compared with other countries, the results of these efforts are rather underwhelming: the average time spent in German hospitals is almost twice as high as at our neighbours in the Netherlands despite the outcomes achieved being comparable in quality. There are also three times as many hospital beds in Germany as in Denmark and almost twice as many as in Holland.

Things do not look good either when levels of digitalisation are compared: while Denmark and Holland feature in the upper third, Germany can be found in the lower third. Those familiar with the subject have the impression that doctors complain a great deal about insufficient budgets and little innovation.

The lack of innovation is a catastrophe for hospitals

The systemic therapist Fritz Simon once said that, from a scientific viewpoint, business management and medicine were very similar culturally speaking in that entreprises did not feature in business management and hospitals did not feature in medicine. This is regrettable both for employees and patients and also for the budget. The lack of innovation is a catastrophe for hospitals. Instead of being equipped to cope with future challenges through innovative concepts, they are being cut to the bone.

Not so at the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), where the digital revolution started in 2009. From that point, the hospital put an end to patchwork working, excuses and chaotic information, illegible scribbling on patient records or doctors’ own notebooks. Now each doctor logs onto one of 10,000 computers during admission, can access and add to patient documents on the existing database. Until 2009, any digital recording of patient data was regarded as irksome, bad for doctors and patients, even as life-threatening because decisions about life and death are made very quickly during an emergency admission. But IT has now become successfully established. Nobody at UKE would like to do without it now.

The University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf – a role model

With 10,000 people employed, 1,700 beds, 400,000 patients and a turnover of EUR 1 billion, the UKE is one of the largest German hospitals. This would certainly not be the case today if it had not been restructured in 2001 when financial losses and falling patient numbers necessitated transformation. In 2001, only 15 percent of patient files had been digitalised compared with 99 percent now. It should be mentioned though that the two computer centres with a storage capacity of an impressive 1,000 terabytes are ministered to by approximately 100 IT specialists.