Pandemic: More trust in the public healthcare system in Austria and Germany
COVID-19 was the most rigorous and brutal test we’ve seen to date for every nation's public healthcare system. From one day to the next, intensive care units were flooded, new COVID-19 testing and vaccination infrastructure had to be rolled out and safety measures needed to be taken throughout the entire system to avoid infection.
It’s been a challenge for everyone, but one good thing has come out of the whole ordeal — studies have shown that public trust in the healthcare system in Austria and Germany has significantly risen. At the same time, the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of healthcare to make it more efficient, reliable and user-friendly.
People saw first-hand what the healthcare system is capable of, why it’s crucial to have an efficient one in place, and its responsibility during an epidemic such as the current one. Yet, at the same time, healthcare workers have been put under immense pressure, and the pandemic has clearly shown where the system requires improvement and can eliminate inefficiencies. Here’s where we see massive potential for digital healthcare to step in and assist.
Increased trust in the healthcare system, willingness to invest
We took a deep dive into Vienna's Healthcare Infrastructure Report 2020, and a questionnaire carried out by the BKK VBU, focusing on trust in the healthcare system. The studies questioned patients, healthcare workers and the public. Here is a summary of the most vital outcomes and what it means for digital healthcare’s opportunities and the future.
In Vienna, three-quarters of the doctors stated that the Viennese health infrastructure performs better in a European comparison. These numbers were also compared to a previous study where around half of the participants agreed with this statement.
When it comes to the patients, two-thirds compared to the previous 57% in 2018 agreed. Similarly, the study carried out in Germany has shown that around 60% of those questioned noted higher trust in the healthcare system than before the pandemic.
The studies have also shown that the willingness and perceived necessity to invest in healthcare infrastructure is significant — an immediate effect of the pandemic.
Digital transformation and rise in demand for telehealth & remote health
What was also clearly noted in the studies is that the Covid-19 pandemic has heavily accelerated digitalization everywhere. What was once done in person was now safer to do remotely — including healthcare consultations and follow-up appointments.
The study has shown an increased demand for:
- telemedicine applications (such as teleconferencing, teleconsultations, telemonitoring, teletherapy)
- electronic medicine prescriptions (e-prescriptions)
- remote diagnosis and remote treatment (in real-time)
- computers and sensors (wearables)
- digital assistance systems — automatic diagnosis or automated
- medical situation reports (this is where XUND comes in)
- surgical robots
- 3-D printing of organs and joints
- personalized medicine and individual medicine thanks to big data evaluations
- improved organization and operations of health services
This trend is bound to continue and become more and more popular in the next few years. Because the public and the healthcare system were forced to use these services and saw that they did indeed work — trust has risen in this way of doing things. So, the demand for digital health solutions like XUND to step in and do some heavy lifting for healthcare workers is only bound to increase in the future.
Doctors and practitioners can now charge for their phone/online consultations
With the help of telecommunication technologies (ICT), healthcare providers can offer contactless and barrier-free communication. As well as making communication between health service providers such as pharmacies, hospitals, nursing staff or doctors easier and more efficient, new regulations now imply that doctors, midwives, psychotherapists, or psychologists can bill for their remote services — not the case pre-pandemic in Austria.
The benefits of this increased demand for telemedicine will continue even after the COVID-19 crisis and digital products are bound to step in to make scheduling appointments and hosting them even more straightforward, which will also require a permanent compensation system.
Another change we’ve seen, especially in the Austrian healthcare system, is that you no longer need to visit a doctor for a prescription or sick leave physically. Instead, once your doctor has consulted you via phone, they can electronically issue a prescription, indicating that healthcare services online are also becoming more holistic.
Smart hospital of the future
A newly coined term ‘Smart Hospital’ or ‘Hospital 4.0’ arose during the pandemic. A hospital in the making where things are a lot more connected, data-driven, and efficient — backed by digital applications and infrastructure. Some hospitals are already implementing these features step by step — new ones are bound to be built with these features in mind. Thus, creating a more innovative, efficient, and compelling future for hospitals and the healthcare system overall.
The hospital of the future is likely to include the following features:
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM)
- Digital hospital & patient records
- AI & data-driven real-time decision-making
- Hospital traffic control centers
- Automated medical supply management
Want to find out more about what you can expect? Check out our latest article on Hospital of the future: this is what we can expect.
Digital and remote healthcare to become a long-term staple
The pandemic has been a burden for us all yet holds opportunities for a brighter future in digital healthcare. We’ve already seen the swift shifts we’ve made towards remote patient care and consultations — yet the future holds much more. Digital products like XUND can step in to relieve healthcare workers of mundane tasks, access real-time scientific research, and make smarter data-driven decisions in seconds. Patients will also become more informed and the system more transparent, which can only mean one thing — more trust on both sides. Now is the time for stakeholders in the healthcare industry to think about their digital patient journey from here on.