“We are one of the five leading practice networks in Germany in the areas of management, structures, and IT, and we are proud to have received the highest ratings in all categories”; that is how Dr. Elmar Schmid, Initiator of the physicians’ network Patient-Partner Association, expresses his joy at the excellent showing of his network in the University of Erlangen’s Practice Network Study 2006. The study examined the degree of maturity of physicians’ networks with regard to strategic, process-oriented, and information technology factors. The Patient-Partner Association, which uses the web-based personal health record LifeSensor, did particularly well in the areas of IT and communication, among others.
The study by the Chair for Business Information Science II of the University of Erlangen shows that there are some distinct differences among the current practice networks in Germany with regard to design, stage of development, and selected focal areas. All of them share the goal of using binding, structured cooperation to provide higher quality and more efficient patient treatment than is currently the case. But only five of 90 networks examined showed a high degree of maturity. Those surveyed see potential for optimization above all in the areas of information technology and communication.
The Munich Patient-Partner Association, which includes 348 general practitioners and specialists, nine pharmacies, ten nursing services, three physiotherapists, and three rehab facilities, was classified in the current study in the category “network pro” and received highest ratings in all three of the evaluated categories – “Information and Communication Systems”, “Network Management System”, and “Processes and Structures”. An overview of portfolios gives Patient-Partner Association the highest overall degree of maturity of all the networks studied.
Patient-Partner Association distinguishes itself clearly from other physicians’ networks in the segment Information and Communication Systems: While only every fifth practice network provides for systematic and structured exchange of data among network partners and only three percent of the practice networks provide documentation of the entire treatment process in an EDP system, the Patient-Partner Association takes a decisive step forward through the use of the electronic health record LifeSensor.
In the online personal health record LifeSensor, the attending physicians find copies of health data on their patients entered by other physicians in the network. Among other things, this includes diagnoses, medications, allergies, and inoculations, as well as check-up and laboratory results. Thus, for the first time the participating personal physicians and specialists have access to extensive information on their patients in a shared online database. Pharmacists, physiotherapists, and nursing personnel, too, have access to certain information in the file, for which they have authorization. In this way, the Patient-Partner Association is already exploiting the essential advantages of digital communication among medical service providers and patients in a way that is planned for the fourth and final stage of the introduction of the electronic health card in Germany. As owner of the online file, the patient decides which medical personal have access to the data and who may alter or delete that data. Patients who cannot or do not want to issue these authorizations themselves have the option of appointing their physician, pharmacist, or other person of trust to issue these access authorizations.
The study can be ordered at www.wi2.uni-erlangen.de/index.php?id=293
(in German only).