Health apps now available on prescription in Germany
Two healthcare apps can now be prescribed by doctors in Germany with the costs covered by statutory insurance.
The two apps are Kalmeda, which aims to help with tinnitus, and Velibra, a digital therapy programme for anxiety.
The move follows the launch of the Digital Healthcare Act (DVG) in 2019, which grants doctors in Germany permission to prescribe apps to their patients. According to consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, while only six per cent of patients have used paid medical apps in the past, around 60 percent say they would use these tools if their physician prescribed them and the costs were covered.
Legislation to digitise the country's healthcare system was passed in November 2019. As well as making medical apps available this way, the new laws are aiming to make the country's health system paperless, with e-prescriptions and plans to introduce electronic health records for patients with statutory insurance by 2021.
Digital health experts Jan Bordon and Gabor Kiss from Simon-Kucher & Partners say that while this presents a great opportunity for the digital healthcare industry, it also carries a degree of risk, particularly where price negotiations are concerned.
In a statement, the consultants warned that companies should be prepared to negotiate: "Based on our experience with negotiations involving the Act on the Reform of the Market for Medicinal Products (AMNOG), we know how important it is to develop a clear pricing strategy. Without a thorough preparation and a structured plan and strategy for negotiations, companies will not succeed.
"In addition, the health insurance association will leverage its knowledge and experience from AMNOG processes, so companies should be prepared for tough price negotiations. If an app is already on the market and paid out of pocket, its selling price will impact its potential future reimbursement price. Furthermore the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-SV) may reference reimbursement prices in other countries that integrate models similar to the German approach in their healthcare systems, and this may affect price negotiations.
"This makes it all the more crucial for providers to have a comprehensive pricing strategy ready at an early stage."
Slovenia launches EU COVID pass built on Better Platform
Slovenia has launched its EU Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Digital Green Certificate, which was developed in only three weeks and built on top of a national clinical data repository (CDR) powered by the Better Platform.
The service generates a certificate based on the data available in Slovenia’s national CDR. The COVID certificate uses integrated care record data such as demographic data, vaccination and test result data that is already available. The data is made available through previously established services by the national COVID-19 screening data management solution and the national eVaccination registry – so there is no need for additional data to be generated solely for certificate purposes.
This rapid development of EU Digital Covid Certificate was made possible by an open-platform approach. It has also been created so that it can used by different systems, providing a vendor-neutral exchange of documents, and is available on-demand in digital or PDF form, with QR codes.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed national health systems to quickly develop new digital solutions for including to manage epidemiological data, and organise COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. The EU Digital COVID Certificate is the latest example of a solution that was developed at this new fast pace to allow citizens to travel safely this summer.
The Slovenian healthcare system already had a national eHealth infrastructure, enabling data to be shared via an integrated care record that makes data available for any digital service instantly, at scale and volume.
Currently, Slovenia's healthcare system includes:
* more than 150 million health records for 2.1 million unique individuals (98% of the population)
* more than 86% (135 million) of records in the form of structured data that uses openEHR models
* more than 4 million records of COVID-19 test results
* unstructured data that includes discharge summaries, clinical notes, opt-in statements, consent documents and other clinical data
* data which is sent to the national system by more than 1,250 registered healthcare providers in Slovenia
Initially, the digital health platform enabled the Slovenian Ministry of Health to respond rapidly and deploy a COVID-19 screening data management solution on a county-wide level in just 14 days. With vaccination data available through the national eVaccination registry, there was no need for additional data to be generated solely to create the COVID certificate.
“We are happy that we already had the suitable IT infrastructure in place in Slovenia" said Minister of Health Janez Poklukar. "It allowed us to respond quickly and provide the necessary digital solutions that support the efforts of medical and epidemiological teams to manage the pandemic, as well as to allow our citizens to travel freely.”