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Initiative Future Region Digital Health (Zukunftsregion Digitale Gesundheit)

Report: Testing Digital Health Care Services in Medical Practices


Project update



„The testing has had a positive impact on the spread of apps in the health sector.“

This is the result of the first report on testing digital health care services in the context of the Initiative Zukunftsregion Digitale Gesundheit (Initiative Future Region Digital Health). Prognos is providing scientific support for the project.

Digital applications in the health care areas of diabetes mellitus and migraine

The first report from Initiative Zukunftsregion Digitale Gesundheit focuses on testing smartphone applications in the health care areas of diabetes mellitus and migraine. The apps in use support patients for instance with documenting blood glucose levels or serve as a digital journal for headaches.

Added value of digital health care services  for doctors and patients

Generally, in both fields – diabetes mellitus as well as migraine –, the doctors involved have reported advantages for their work through the integration of digital health care services.

Single treatments are evaluated as more effective as well as (more) individualised, communication with patients participating in the tests is perceived to be improved, and documentation processes were optimised through the analysing functions of the digital health care services. The majority experienced data visualisation in consultations as helpful and enriching.

However, the benefits seem to be especially on the patients’ side. An improvement in the patients' motivation to behave in a more health-conscious way was observed by the medical staff. Furthermore, they perceived a higher health literacy and improved consciousness for the patients course of disease.

Challenges in the integration of digital health care services

However, the test phase has also shown that the integration of digital health services poses challenges for doctors as well as patients.

The most frequently named central obstacles are: no time to try something new, not enough know-how on digital solutions, lacking compensation for time spent and lacking interfaces with the practice software. In particular during the implementation process, the integration of digital applications consumes a lot of time, personnel and expertise that is not covered by adequate funding.

On the patients’ side, prejudices towards digital applications, no (sufficiently) powerful smartphones, a suspected time-consuming use and no expected added value for the treatment were prevalent. To convince patients of the benefits requires applications whose advantages can be felt quickly.

Prospects and approaches for improvement

Doctors collectively agreed: Projects like the Initiative Zukunftsregion Digitale Gesundheit and the related testing are important stimuli.

More than half of the doctors in the sector of diabetes mellitus expressed a positive attitude, in the sector of migraine even more than 85%.

In both sectors nearly all doctors involved will continue integrating digital health care services for treating their patients. For diabetes mellitus, almost one third has plans for a more thorough integration than before the test phase. For migraine, even more than half of the doctors are planning to do so.

To expand the introduction of digital applications in the future, these services will have to be more accessible for both parties, doctors as well as patients and smooth integration into existing structures and processes in doctors' practices must be made possible, among other things. In addition, structures must be adapted, tasks redistributed and task profiles further developed.

To the full report (PDF in German,

Mehr Informationen about the project (in German)

Authors: Laura Sulzer, Jakob Maetzel, Eva Willer, Dr. Stefan Moog, Dr. Oliver Ehrentraut

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Laura Sulzer

Project Manager

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