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by Jonas Butt5 Min.

The Hospital Future Act (KHZG): Concise and Easy Support for IT Projects in the German Healthcare System

Germany’s Hospital Future Act (Krankenhauszukunftsgesetz), or KHZG, was introduced in 2020 after extensive investment in German hospitals’ IT infrastructure, the push for digitalisation and the creation of a modernised framework of healthcare in Germany. In this blog post, we highlight the most important information about the KHZG and its objectives, deadlines and challenges in a concise, digestible way.

More digitalisation for the German Healthcare System
More digitalisation for the German Healthcare System

The First Step: the KHZG Law Is Passed

With the Hospital Future Act, Germany saw its federal government set aside three billion euros in 2020, with individual federal states also providing an additional 1.3 billion euros. The then Minister of Health Jens Spahn announced, ‘we are investing in the digital future, because the pandemic has shown us how important well-equipped and functioning hospitals are.’

The Funding Goals and Specifications of the Hospital Future Act:

The KHZG regulates various aspects of how funding for digitalisation is distributed. The act also contains regulations for assessing a healthcare facility’s level of digital medicine. The KHZG focuses primarily on:

  • Inpatient emergency care: optimisation of processes and linking with other service providers.

  • Nationwide standards: introduction of standardised IT systems and interfaces for better interoperability.

  • Linking the German healthcare system: promotion of telemedical applications and cross-sector collaboration.

  • Quality improvement: improving healthcare in Germany through digital medicine solutions.

  • IT security: increasing the security of the IT infrastructure in German hospitals.

Funding Timeframe and Application Deadlines

  • Funding timeframe: 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2025

  • Application deadline: 31st December 2025

Eligible Projects:

The KHZG comprises 11 categories of eligible projects within the health system in Germany. These include:

  • Digital health records: introduction and use of an online patient portal.

  • Use of telemedicine: video consultations, provision of digital medicine, online patient portal.

  • IT security: firewalls, virus protection, encryption technologies.

  • Interoperability: secure data transmission between hospitals and other medical service providers.

Prerequisites for Funding:

  • Statutory hospital operators (no solely private clinics)

  • Project start after 2nd September 2020

  • Project completion by 31st December 2025

  • Compliance with EU state aid regulations.

  • Use of recognised standards for interoperability

  • Implementation of digital patient records through an online patient portal

  • Secure IT infrastructure according to current standards

  • Compliance with data protection

  • Utilisation of the telemedicine (if available)

The Funding Amount:

The amount of funding depends on the type of project and the size of the hospital. Details can be found in the official funding guidelines.

Challenges and Criticisms:

  • Complexity of the application process: applying for funding can be time-consuming and complicated.

  • Uncertainty about the amount of funding: the amount of funding depends on various factors and cannot be precisely calculated in advance.

  • Obligation to implement standards: hospitals that receive funding are obliged to implement certain standards, e.g. the introduction of digital health records. This can also lead to high costs.

  • Staff shortages: German hospitals often lack the staff with the necessary IT skills to implement digital medicine.

  • Data security: the digitalisation of healthcare in Germany also harbours risks in terms of data security.

This Is How the Hospital Future Act Application Process Works:

Applications are submitted in three steps:

  • Declaration of need: the hospital declares its need of KHZG funding to its respective federal state, stating its requirements via forms issued by the Federal Office for Social Security (BAS).

  • Funding application: within three months of submission, the federal state decides which projects are eligible for funding and applies to the BAS for the funds. Applicants must adhere to the state-specific submission deadlines during the application process.

  • Approval and payout: the BAS approves the funding and they are transferred.

Further Information

The fully written Hospital Future Act can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health. There you will also find all information on the funding guidelines, deadlines and extensive FAQs:

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