Germany is nursing itself sore. For years, the number of people in need of care has been growing faster than the number of overworked caregivers. With the help of digitization, healthcare workers should be relieved and patient care improved. The state is now also creating the necessary conditions to apply for subsidies. Find out now which specific measures nursing homes and hospitals can use to make the leap into digitization and how the corresponding solution approaches are being funded.
The role of digitization in Care 4.0
With the introduction of the Pflegestärkungsgesetze, hopes for an efficient and sustainable care system in Germany are also germinating once again. With the upgrade to Care 4.0, many things are supposed to get even better. In this context, higher wages and more skilled workers from abroad are just as important for professional care as the long overdue digitization in the German healthcare system. Intra- and Internet-based innovations will bring two major benefits, especially in the information and communication areas of outpatient and inpatient care facilities:
- Relieving the workload of nursing staff through modern monitoring and communication and information systems.
- Increasing the well-being of care recipients with the help of contemporary entertainment options
With these measures, digitization in healthcare succeeds
Hospitals as well as other full inpatient care facilities must take advantage of the opportunities for success offered by digital transformation in order to continue to create strategic competitive advantages in the future. The focus here is clearly on saving time and effort. Electronic patient records, DECT alarm systems, video consultation hours and networked monitoring systems are examples of the digital and technical equipment options that make the digitization of healthcare possible.
Digitizing care with the help of modern communication systems
Above all, communication channels must be fast, reliable and, in the digital age, mobile. Multimedia applications for video telephony, instant messaging platforms and global web collaboration solutions offer caregivers and patients alike a way to contact each other more efficiently, organize themselves, collaborate virtually or forward emergencies to the right place more quickly.
Secure networks as the basic building block of digital transformation
Digitalization in hospitals or nursing homes cannot be made possible without improving IT. Numerous processes in care facilities run digitally and the structuring of Big Data in professional care is increasingly becoming a Herculean task. Modern mobile networking has also become essential for outpatient service providers. Anyone who has to deal with a large number of highly sensitive, digitized patient files on a daily basis will not be able to avoid up-to-date protection of LAN- and WLAN-based communication and data streams.
New alarm systems for the digital transformation in healthcare
Anyone aiming for digitization in healthcare must think about contemporary alarm and emergency call systems. In hospitals and nursing homes, emergencies every second are the order of the day. People in need of care get lost, need medication or fall and lie on the floor. Sensors for fall detection, nurse call systems or digital applications for locating people can help against this. These alarm systems are just as useful for people in need of care who receive outpatient care or care from family members in their own homes.
Modern information exchange in Care 4.0
Modern information systems can support the digitization of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living. They can be useful, for example, in recording services for residents and patients. Thanks to video conferencing, it will be easier for caregivers to take part in continuing education measures or to integrate patient and vital data of all kinds into records in real time during conversations via VOIP platforms.
Digitization in healthcare creates new entertainment options
And it does so in two senses. Video telephony allows people in need of care to talk more often with family at home or friends on the screen. Even church services can be broadcast live into the rooms of nursing home residents. It’s also time to make room for smart entertainment TV for those dusty tube TVs, as care recipients of all ages are becoming more affine with new digital media and want to record TV shows, read newsletters and store on the Internet.
Government funding for digitization in the healthcare sector
Care facilities and hospitals are facing ever new challenges. For example, according to the new legislation in nursing, structured quality reports must be prepared constantly, more secure transmission procedures must be implemented, and previously analog work areas must be transformed into telemedicine, eHealth, and mHealth. Within the new care laws, the Federal Ministry of Health not only places requirements on professional care, but also creates special (financial) incentives for outpatient and inpatient care facilities with corresponding funding.
Funding for digitization in hospitals
As recently as October 2020, it was decided within the Hospital Future Act that up to two billion euros would be made available until 2024 to continue funding projects by the federal states to improve structures in hospital care. With these funds, hospitals can apply for funding for the following projects:
- Establishing care centers that treat complex and rare diseases
- Creating integrated emergency structures and telemedicine network structures
- Revising the information technology security of hospitals
- Introducing additional training capacity
How future funds support the digitization of the healthcare sector
Furthermore, the Hospital Future Fund was launched, in which hospitals are allowed to apply for funding totaling three billion euros for projects to improve IT and information security and other necessary investments for digitization in care. The state has obviously recognized the supply gap in care and responded.
Further funding for digitization in care
Outpatient and inpatient care facilities cannot rely solely on subsidies from the state to finance their digital transformation. Companies such as BVG Communication Technologies, which specialize in modern solutions in IT and telecommunications, take over the entire process from consulting to implementation and maintenance, thus freeing care facilities from numerous responsibilities. The offering also includes flexible financing models that can be tailored precisely to individual needs. In the process, care operations that invest in digitization can benefit from cost relief through the following measures:
- Often loose existing contracts for rent, maintenance or leasing are replaced and optimized by BVG combined
- The liabilities side of the balance sheet can be relieved by means of depreciation financing for the purchase of digital or technical equipment that will be used in the company in the long term
- When new equipment is purchased, any user fees for used technology, which is based on a different financing model, are eliminated
- Financing can be tailored to individual needs (pay-per-use models, immediate purchase, installment payments, rent)
Funding is not always of a monetary nature, but within the digitization process can also mean the time and effort savings made possible by the full-service offering from a professional source.
Digitization in healthcare: Frequently Asked Questions
How can care providers apply for funding for digitization?
Pflegebetriebe stellen zuerst eine Bedarfsanmeldung im zuständigen Land. Die Formulare dafür finden Betriebe online auf der Webseite des Bundesamts für Soziale Sicherung (BAS). Das Land entscheidet dann welche Förderungen beim BAS beantragt werden und stellt im zweiten Schritt den Antrag. Als Grundvoraussetzung für eine Förderung gilt, dass sich die Länder bzw. die Einrichtungen mit mindesten 30 Prozent an den Kosten beteiligen.
What does the Hospital Futures Fund support?
Countries can still submit applications for funding for digitization in care until December 31, 2021. Funding is available for necessary investments in
- Information technology equipment for emergency rooms
- Digitization of communicative and organizational processes
- Information security
- Optimization of regional care structures for times of crisis
What funding is available under the Nursing Workforce Enhancement Act?
In the Nursing Staff Strengthening Act, it was decided in 2019 that nursing care facilities would be supported with 40 percent co-financing from the nursing care insurers. This involves a subsidy for the one-time acquisition of digital and technical equipment of up to 12,000 euros. In total, measures with a value of up to 30,000 euros are to be subsidized per facility.