What is it?
digitalCross will be a web/mobile application that allows patients to seek medical help and get treated online (where possible). If that is not possible, digitalCross will provide directions to a clinic that is close to the patient and where the waiting time is expected to be low. digitalCross therefore integrates with online medical providers (Tele-medicine) and in-person healthcare providers.
The next stage will allow a patient to obtain and store, Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigungen and prescriptions in the app. This will prevent loss, theft and forgery of those documents. We also plan to integrate with pharmacies so that the patient can order medicine directly from the digitalCross app.
Why is this useful?
digitalCross was conceived during the Coronavirus pandemic with social distancing in mind. The cost to society of people falling ill to transmittable diseases is high enough by itself to justify the existence of digitalCross.
Of course, the comfort and efficiency provided by such a solution is also a major benefit. digitalCross will let those who are sick focus on recovery, while preventing those with weaker health from getting seriously ill from transmittable diseases.
How will you do this?
The technology to do all of this already exists. Based on our research, there are already companies providing tele-medicine and there are pharmacies that deliver medicine to a patient’s home. Our task in digitalCross will not be to “re-invent the wheel,” but rather to integrate these existing services into our app.
In terms of waiting time monitoring in physical clinics, there are already internal systems in place that do this. Our task will be to make that information available to digitalCross servers so that we can provide the information to our users. This will allow us to give the directions to the closest clinic, meaning travel time + waiting time.
Data and data security will be crucial in implementing digitalCross. Laws aside, users need to trust us with their data. Our proposed solution is to integrate with the new elektronische Patientenakte (ePA). This will allow us to store the lease amount of data on our servers, minimizing the risk of data theft or loss.
We plan to integrate pharmacies into a single web-shop accessible from the digitalCross app. This should be a similar user experience to Amazon, Bringmeister, or similar. Prescription-medicine can be added automatically to the user’s shopping cart based on the prescription received from the online or in-person treatment.
Who will use it?
We see the greatest benefit of digitalCross when as many patients as possible use it. Many in-person appointments across the country can be replaced by phone or video consultations. By reducing sick people’s exposure to society, we can prevent the spread of diseases, saving both lives and productivity.
We are currently talking to members of the German parliament about implementing digitalCross and the response has been enthusiastic from every person we have spoken to.
Is this sustainable?
Yes, because the benefits to both the individual and society is clear. But in order to be sustainable, the solution must be able to cover its costs. We are therefore currently looking at two business models:
Firstly, the public funding model, which would generate revenue from the Krankenkasse to ensure the stable and equal treatment of all patients. Our goal with this revenue model would be to ensure maximum adoption among the German population. We would partner with current services providing doctor consultations over video and focus on enabling as many patients as possible to opt for a video consultation. This would minimize the cost of infectious diseases to society as a whole because it would limit the general population’s interaction with infectious patients. Immune-compromised people, who may cost the Krankenkasse a disproportionally high amount if infected, would also be less at risk, lowering overall health costs. Since the kickstart for this project came from the Bundesgesundheitsministerium, we consider this a viable model that aims to maximize the value to society.
Secondly, there is a fully private business model. This would again involve partnering with current services providing video-consultations between patients and doctors, as it is not within the scope of digitalCross to employ and manage healthcare professionals. This model would likely see limited (if any) revenue from Krankenkassepatienten and would have to recover this lost revenue by selling additional services or promotions to patients and service providers. Selling promotions to service providers would potentially include charging doctors and clinics per patient assigned to them, but there are several problems with this. Firstly, the patient is unlikely to be assigned to the most practical (for them) clinic or physician, but instead to one who paid for promotion within digitalCross. This could potentially hurt digitalCross’ credibility and adoption.
Selling additional services to patients would likely be the most accepted way of generating revenue. German patients are used to a two-tiered system, where one can pay for more rapid access and better flexibility within the healthcare sector. Prioritizing higher paying (or privately insured) patients within the video-consultation queuing system, or charging additional fees for video-consultations outside of normal business hours would be the most transparent way for digitalCross to generate revenue without incurring costs additional to the development and operation of the core service.
A hybrid model is also a possibility and would have to be explored based on funding scenarios.
What still has to be done?
The technical development of digitalCross still has to be done. In order for this system to work, it has to be built properly by professional developers. The original idea was conceived at a hackathon by non-developers, and while we believe the idea is excellent, it is not something that can be built as hobby-project.
We have no intention of becoming the health-equivalent of the BER airport and want to ensure that the end-product is safe, secure and easy to use.
We are therefore looking for developers who can provide technical advice.