At the end of 2018, the Bertelsmann Foundation issued its Digital Health Index, confirming that the digitalization of the healthcare system in Germany is not reaching patients. In recent years, politicians have reacted to this with numerous new laws, but the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the behavior of those involved in the healthcare system is even greater. In order to determine the current status and acceptance of digitalization in the healthcare sector, Porsche Consulting conducted an exclusive representative survey of 1,000 statutorily insured persons in Germany.
Digital health applications (DiGA)
Even though the first digital applications were approved in October 2020, DiGA have still not reached the wider population about one year later. As the main reason, 39 percent of the respondents in the survey state that they have no information about DiGa, and 29 percent of respondents assume that the “digital apps” are not reimbursed by health insurers. Only 12 percent are aware or believe that their health insurers will pay for the use of a digital health application. "In order to increase the level of utilization for digital health applications, there must be a stronger communication initiative. This is a joint task for all players in the healthcare sector. Only then will patient acceptance gradually increase," says Dr. Roman Hipp, Senior Partner at Porsche Consulting.
The popularity of telemedicine applications is already much higher, not least as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This trend is also confirmed by the survey: for around 46 percent of those with statutory health insurance, the advantages of a telemedicine service outweigh those of a visit to a doctor’s office for minor health problems. However, 39 percent of respondents still prefer to visit their family doctor, and 15 percent are currently undecided. "Using telemedicine services has become the default for many during the pandemic. However, the barriers to uptake are perceived to still be too high by many people. More information, easier handling and, above all, the introduction of the electronic prescription on 1 January 2022 will shift the odds ever further in favor of telemedicine," says Dr. Roman Hipp.
Sharing Data with Pharma & Medtech
In terms of willingness to share health data with pharmaceutical or medical technology companies, the survey revealed an overall openness among participants: 62 percent are willing to do so in principle or under certain conditions, such as research into specific diseases. In contrast, 31 percent of respondents rejected this in principle. Dr. Roman Hipp explains: "With digital solutions, there are significantly more opportunities for manufacturers to collect data on user behavior and health status and use it to continuously develop their products and thus optimize healthcare. Here, trust in the company as well as clear and understandable rules for the protection and use of data play the decisive role. Pharmaceutical and medical technology companies that are pioneers here will be able to convince more patients and gain an important competitive advantage through access to more data."