Interview with Dr. Dirk Hüske-Kraus, Clinical Director CTE, PHILIPS Healthcare
Whether it’s for clinical decision making or transport logistics involving patients and materials: Apps are quickly becoming an effective digital tool in hospitals. The 40th German Hospital Day at MEDICA 2017 also highlights this topic.
Dr. Dirk Hüske-Kraus
In this interview with MEDICA-tradefair.com, Dr. Dirk Hüske-Kraus, Clinical Director CTE, PHILIPS Healthcare, talks about the pros and cons of apps in healthcare.
How strongly are hospitals in Germany digitized at the moment? Where do they stand compared to other countries?
Dr. Dirk Hüske-Kraus: A great roadmap for this is the EMRAM-Index ("EMR adoption and usage") by the HIMSS organization, which – to put it simply – describes the level of maturity and adoption of medical information systems. If you refer to this index, Germany doesn’t fare well and ranks below the average of rated European countries.
What are the concrete pros and cons of apps in healthcare?
Hüske-Kraus: All of us have probably heard the saying, "There’s an app for that". Apps are a new high-level software. The fact that they are mobile and therefore available anywhere and also able to use a wide variety of sensors gives them an edge. Apps also evolve from other contexts, generally follow an agile development approach and are quicker to hit the market. The app model provides instant access to a global market for any developer, regardless of where he/she lives and creates. It allows people to unlock new potential. Needless to say, this also has serious drawbacks. In the classic scenario, with software development companies for example, there are quality control systems and much broader competencies in terms of the range of application. Oftentimes, there are solid connections to the customer base and thus a certain stability of the company, which stands for continuity and investment protection. As a general rule, if you purchase an app from an unknown provider, you can’t count on the provider to still be there the next day.
How does this impact the healthcare sector?
Hüske-Kraus: It has serious implications! Applications that are technically a medical device, are often meant to be mitigated in some measure by adding a disclaimer such as "for educational purposes only". The burden of controlling whether they are genuinely not being used in connection with a treatment is with the user, that being the hospital. Needless to say, the protection of personal data is especially important when it comes to health applications. A non-transparent market with literally hundreds of thousands of providers doesn’t give people a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Having said that, you also need to acknowledge the benefits. Something we haven’t managed in doing so well to this day with conventional models, namely cross-sector data collection and exchange is at least technically much easier to accomplish via apps. Nearly every patient always has a smartphone on them. Whether it’s fitness data, vital parameters or data from measurement devices: an app on the smartphone makes data acquisition and access possible.
In what way can hospitals benefit from special apps?
Hüske-Kraus: If we choose to ignore aspects of cross-sector data supply, apps can actually open up many new possibilities by being embedded in a mobile sensor-equipped environment. For me, the integration of patients and family members into the treatment and care process ranks right on top. That being said, the actual treatment process and especially the clinical decision making process, the implementation of guidelines and warnings produced by apps are better reinforced in someone’s lab coat versus in stationary or somewhat mobile applications on a PC or laptop. And there are also a variety of logistical processes – ranging from tracking mobile devices to indoor navigation all the way to transport logistics involving patients and materials – where apps can be very helpful and supportive. We will get to see two great examples of this at the German Hospital Day.
What can events like the German Hospital Day at MEDICA contribute to the issue of "Digitization of Hospitals"?
Hüske-Kraus: Above all, it is important to emphasize the enormous potential but also the serious risks of digitization, thus enabling decision-makers to make informed decisions. It is vital to bust myths about buzzwords such as "Big Data", "Deep Learning" or "block chain" on the one hand, while presenting their concrete benefits for future solutions on the other.
And as it relates to apps, I would like to see an increased creation of curiosity and interest to replace "There’s an app for that" with "I need an app for that".
Nadine Lormis Translated by Elena O'Meara MEDICA-tradefair.com