CompuGROUP has been active in the German e-health market since the late 1980s and has expanded its business activities continuously ever since. Early this year, the e-health service provider acquired 75 percent interest in INMEDEA GmbH, a company founded in 2008. INMEDEA is an outgrowth of the "Prometheus" project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research - the cornerstone of the web-based e-learning platform INMEDEA Simulator.
The INMEDEA Simulator combines state-of-the-art technology with sound scientific principles and learning methods. Working in a virtual hospital, medical students and physicians have an opportunity to acquire medical knowledge and expertise in a "playful" approach. Unlike other media-aided learning systems in use today, emphasis is not placed on digesting facts but on applying acquired knowledge in concrete scenarios. Virtual patients are examined and treated in graphic simulations of real outpatient clinics.
The corresponding library module provides quick, problem-oriented access to background information and tutorials on specific topics. A knowledge-exchange forum is also available. As learners act and take decisions in virtual reality, straight factual knowledge quickly evolves into practical, experience-based expertise. Until now, such expertise could often be acquired slowly, unsystematically and incompletely in actual practice and the exchange of empirical insights with colleagues. A composite of real experience, the virtual, yet authentic patient thus contributes to the development of sound medical expertise.
Another key advantage offered by the INMEDEA Simulator for users undergoing basic or specialized medical training is the opportunity to deal with rare or exotic diseases in the form of realistic simulations. Common diseases which, due to cost and capacity constraints, are now treated almost exclusively in special clinics, are rarely encountered in teaching hospitals today. They can also be "played through" without restriction as to time or place, a factor of crucial importance to medical students and practitioners.
The INMEDEA Simulator underscores the role of CompuGROUP as a technology and innovation expert. The platform is the most ambitious and extensive patient simulation system in the field of medicine and its combination of didactics, content and technology is unparalleled in the world. Thanks to the fully modular structure of virtual clinics and patients, the level of complexity can be adjusted to the specific requirements of each user. Up to 3800 diagnostic and therapeutic measures are available for simulated use.
INMEDEA was a finalist in the 2009 European E-Learning Award competition and placed second in the Professional E-Learning category. A number of national and international clients, among them the German Army, are already taking advantage of the strong potential and the diverse possibilities offered by the INMEDEA Simulator. Further projects are also planned in co-operation with sponsors and industrial clients.
"Studies show that basic and specialized medical training has a lasting effect only if it is problem-oriented and interactive. Traditional lectures and medical textbooks are much less effective learning media", explained Prof. Dr. med. Stefan F. Winter, Chief Technical Officer of CompuGROUP. "With the INMEDEA Simulator, medical students and physicians learn and practise using optimum diagnostic and treatment paths with individual patients. Quality medical care and economic pragmatism are perfectly balanced in each individual case. This ultimately results in better patient treatment and a more effective use of the resources available to the health care system. The concept is rounded out by the possibility of integrating it into out clinic and physicians' information systems, through which we are able to reach physicians directly within their work flows."
In the fourth quarter of 2008, Knappschaft Bahn See and the CompuGROUP subsidiary Gesellschaft für angewandte integrierte Versorgungsformen (GiV) mbH in the Saarland launched an innovative, fully practicable, integrated treatment programme: prosper Versorgungs-management Diabetes. The goal is to optimize treatment in order to improve the health of manifest diabetics and risk patients on a sustained basis. Apart from this top-priority medical goal, the programme is also expected to reduce the consequential costs of diabetes, which account for up to 80 percent of total treatment costs for these patients.
The foundation of the prosper programme is a health care network established by Knappschaft and composed of family doctors, specialists and hospitals in a given region. The prosper Saar health care network consists of over 300 physicians, of whom 50 are now participating in the interdisciplinary, cross-sector prosper Versorgungsmanagement Diabetes programme.
The heart of prosper Versorgungsmanagement Diabetes consists of a central, indication-based case file and an innovative diagnostic and treatment path derived from data contained in the file - both elements developed by CompuGROUP. All relevant information is entered in the file by participating physicians. It includes comprehensive treatment data on Type 2 diabetes patients as well as information about identified risk patients. On the basis of this medical data, the treatment path provides specific guideline-oriented recommendations for treatment teams at the moment a medical decision needs to be made.
The diabetes mellitus path was developed by the medical team at CompuGROUP in consultation with the renowned expert Prof. Dr. Werner Scherbaum of Düsseldorf. "Our goal is to offer doctors only those 'bits of information' they really need - at precisely the right moment and integrated directly into the physician's work flow", explained Frank Ladendorf, Managing Director of GiV.
Prof. Dr. med. Werner Scherbaum, Director of the Endocrinology, Diabetology and Rheumatology Clinic at the Düsseldorf University Hospital, goes one step further: "The prosper Versorgungsmanagement Diabetes programme responds to the repeatedly expressed appeal for a practicable diagnostic and treatment system controlled primarily by family physicians. Specialist treatment can be integrated without difficulty. Making the best use of existing resources, developing them through innovation and thus doing more for patients and their health - these are the primary objectives of prosper Versorgungsmanagement Diabetes."
Frank Ladendorf emphasized the potential savings for health insurers: "We are already seeing evidence that prosper Versorgungsmanagement Diabetes enhances the efficiency of patient treatment while ensuring quality and cost-effectiveness on a sustainable basis. Our software makes a valuable contribution in that context. I'm sure", Frank Ladendorf added, "that other health insurers will soon be using intelligent-software-aided systems of this kind to increase efficiency as well."
"We hope to find out", stated Hans Adolf Müller, Health Management Director at Knappschaft Bahn See, "whether this innovative decision-support system will enable us to help our policy holders more effectively and to provide more systematic support to treating physicians and their teams." CompuGROUP has proven to be a strong partner. As the market specialist, CompuGROUP has broad, central access to practising physicians thanks to the widespread use of its physicians' information system.
According to Frank Ladendorf, "Treatment management systems of this kind work only if they are accepted by physicians. We gain that acceptance by integrating the system into existing work flows and by ensuring complete transparency - with respect to prescriptions, for example." The pilot project is scheduled to run until the end of 2009, after which it will be evaluated for the purpose of assessing the practicability and the added benefits of this form of integrated treatment. If the positive results shown thus far are confirmed, the programme will be launched on a broad basis and expanded to include other guideline-oriented patient paths for other widespread diseases in 2010.
The Techniker Krankenkasse has been using the Verax List, the predecessor of the present cardtrust service, since the fourth quarter of 2004. Among other features, the well-known system developed by CompuGROUP identifies and blocks expired or cancelled health insurance identification cards.
Integrated within the physicians' information system, the service checks insurance cards presented by patients. After verifying the cardholder's entitlement to benefits from the Techniker Krankenkasse, the system checks to ensure that data regarding the patient's current co-payment status are correct and up to date.
Cardtrust provides the Techniker Krankenkasse substantial protection against billing fraud. Employing a combination of systems, Germany's largest statutory health insurance fund has been taking effective measures to prevent the abuse of health insurance cards for many years, although insurers have been required to do so by law only since 2007.
According to current plans developed by gematik - Gesellschaft für Telematikanwendungen der Gesundheitskarte mbH, the new electronic health card (eGK) will be introduced nationwide beginning this year. The health insurance identification card currently in use will be gradually phased out. In order to satisfy the requirements of the law, insurers need a system that is capable of protecting both eGKs and health insurance identification cards against abuse and unauthorized exemption from co-payments for prescriptions.
On the basis of the proven Verax service, CompuGROUP developed the new cardtrust system, which offers the protection required by law for both types of cards. "With cardtrust, we now offer all statutory health insurance funds an innovative solution that identifies cases of abuse on a day-to-day basis and protects our health care system against major losses. The service is available immediately and will provide effective protection both during and after the transition phase for the eGK", noted Jan Broer, Chief Marketing Officer of CompuGROUP Holding AG, with regard to the impact of the new system.
As Hermann Bärenfänger from the Techniker Krankenkasse explained: "The decision in favour of cardtrust was logical and consistent. We had already avoided annual losses in the high million range with Verax. The use of cardtrust will pay off for us and our policy holders in a very real sense. We are pleased to have found a proven partner in CompuGROUP, a company that is able to offer trustworthy e-health technologies quickly and reliably, especially during times of change."
CompuGROUP is one of the major e-health companies in the world. Its software products designed to support medical and organisational activities in physicians' surgeries and hospitals, its information services for all parties involved in the health sector and its web-based personal medical files contribute to the development of a more reliable and efficient health service system. The basis for the services offered by CompuGROUP is an unparalleled customer base comprising some 326.000 physicians, dentists, hospitals and networks, as well as other service providers. CompuGROUP is the e-health company with the widest global reach among service providers. The firm operates in 14 European countries, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United States and currently employs roughly 2700 people. More company news can be found in the VMW December 2008 article CompuGROUP subsidiary ISPro's telemedicine portal receives Hospital Award 2008 for 'Best Referral Concept'.