Telemedicine has many advantages: it reduces the risk of infection, eases the pressure on hospital staff, saves patients time and effort, and improves the quality of care provided.
Telemedicine in the Bundeswehr hospital
Many soldiers live some way away from the nearest Bundeswehr hospital, and their workplace might be far from a medical centre.
That means long journeys and time wasted in waiting rooms, even when the appointment itself is only brief. During the ongoing pandemic, it is especially important to avoid contact with others when travelling to an appointment by public transport and while you are in the hospital.
Trial at the Berlin Bundeswehr hospital
The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub and the trauma and orthopaedic surgery clinic at the Berlin Bundeswehr hospital have jointly tested the feasibility of medical appointments by video conference. Telemedicine has been legal in Germany since the introduction of the 2018 e-health law.
The trial was carried out on conventional tablets and smartphones using a certified online platform, which is equipped with end-to-end encryption capacities and two-factor authentication. These security measures guarantee that patient data are protected.
Patients received an email or SMS containing a link and password before their online appointment, allowing them to log into a secure waiting area before being ‘called in’ by an orthopaedist. The connection could be established from any device, such as a mobile phone or tablet with any operating system and from any manufacturer.
Time and effort saved
The online system is suitable for appointments involving advice, repeat prescriptions, monitoring and aftercare, e.g., for surgical wounds, as the visual contact provided by the video session is usually sufficient in these cases.
The live trial at the Berlin Bundeswehr hospital has yielded positive results: physicians and patients found that video appointments are a useful addition to regular appointments. They save time and money and ease the burden on both parties. Telemedicine has become an integral part of the daily work of medical professionals. The Bundeswehr has decided to make the project permanent. The next step is to purchase the software and roll it out using the processes governed by the customer product management (CPM).
Winner of the Paul Schürmann Prize
The online appointment system won the 2020 Paul Schürmann Prize, an award presented by the German society for military medicine and pharmacy (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Wehrmedizin und Wehrpharmazie e. V.) for outstanding scientific achievements in the two fields. It has been awarded biennially since 1968.