Industry News: MEDICA 2007: Telemedicine for service providers is a core focus of the MEDICA MEDIA

02 Oct 2007

A recent challenge issued by Professor Dr. Dipl. Kfm. (FH) Rainer Riedel, director of the Medical Economics program at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne says, “we need to combine treatment data from inpatient and outpatient departments.“ In calling for this development, he also reveals the focus of this year’s MEDICA MEDIA, the special exhibition for telemedicine held as part of MEDICA 2007 in Düsseldorf (November 14th – 17th).

Professor Riedel is a member of the MEDICA MEDIA advisory board and points out that while it is often possible to determine drug costs – or at least the Defined Daily Dose (DDD) – particularly in office-based practice, it is usually impossible to determine the total or annual costs incurred by a particular case. He is therefore calling for more long-term monitoring in order to get a realistic picture of the situation. “We are only just starting out”, says Riedel, a medical economist who would like to see telemedicine evaluated using similarly high standards. He believes that “in some cases, telemedicine can enable office-based physicians to have their patients admitted to hospital less often.” This can help to reduce the costs incurred in individual cases. This would, however, really only be evidenced by appropriate analysis carried out as part of Health Care Management research. One example to be discussed at the MEDICA MEDIA (Hall 16) is NYHA Class III heart failure. In the “CorBene” project, for example, telemedicine is an integral part of optimized treatment schedules. Imaging procedures like cardiac MRI and cardiac CT are also involved, as are the opportunities offered by telemedicine, including the "Herz-Handy" cardiogram device. Participating practitioners include office-based physicians, outpatient cardiologists, the Porz am Rhein Hospital and other cardiac and rehabilitation facilities.

It is apparently not just patients with heart failure who can benefit; telemedicine may also improve monitoring of illnesses like sleep apnea. Professor Dr. med. Helmut Teschler, President of the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine, will explain how this works in his presentation at the MEDICA MEDIA.

An even more controversial topic in medical circles is the concept of Diseases Management Programs (DMP). Professor Reinhard Griebenow, Member of the Quality Assurance Committee of the North Rhine Medical Association, will provide an insight into the treatment results at the MEDICA MEDIA.

Overall, MEDICA MEDIA is directed at service providers, who are also becoming increasingly significant end users of “eHealth”, telemedicine and medical information technology. Dr. Otto Rienhoff, a Professor in the Georg-August-University Hospital of Göttingen’s Medical IT department, is in favor of telemedicine. “The end user is the ordinary citizen, the patient, and using IT will enable doctors to improve their services in the long term. “But at the same time, he warns. “Doctors who do not have this advantage will lag behind the competition. The understandable acceptance problems we are currently seeing are a result of healthcare professionals’ unfavorable starting position.” Professor Rienhoff believes, however, that practitioners will help to shape this process in the realization that their profession and their roles will, in the long term, be either threatened or positively remodeled by information technology.

But the IT and telemedicine trends also have consequences for hospitals. The switch to case-based remuneration is placing them under pressure and forcing comprehensive modernization. Decision-making processes in hospitals will, according to Professor Rienhoff, increasingly be shifted from IT departments to management level. He emphasizes that two areas must now be restructured:- “Management boards must build up strategic IT competencies and high-quality, sustainable process reorganization methods must be established. It would be reckless to treat both as an afterthought.”

Professor Rienhoff, who is also a member of the MEDICA MEDIA’s advisory board, is convinced that telemedicine can make the work of doctors easier and improve patient care. In his opinion MEDICA MEDIA highlights the opportunities available and is consistently geared toward the needs of practitioner and patient.

Further information about MEDICA 2007, the MEDICA Congress, the MEDICA MEDIA and about the products offered from around 4,200 exhibitors from 65 countries and from sectors including IT and communications, is available via the article webpage.