Digitalization in the health sector has been a topic of discussion for many years now. Both experts and patients are convinced that digitalization can enrich healthcare processes and quality in the coming years. The future is digital, as the Corona pandemic has clearly shown us. Since October 29 in 2020 there has been an answer to this: The Hospital Future Act (HFA).

There are several reasons for the slow progress of digitalization in German hospitals. In addition to insufficient funding, the biggest obstacles are lack of compatibility and interoperability of IT, lack of standardization processes, and data protection. There are still many processes in the healthcare sector that are completely analog, even though digitalization can enable better medical care and treatment in the long term. A large proportion of German hospitals have found it difficult to raise the necessary financial resources to digitalize their processes.

What does the investment program for digital healthcare look like?

The Hospital Future Act is a new investment program of the German Federal Ministry of Health that enables hospitals in Germany to undergo a cost-effective digital transformation. The law implements the “Hospitals of the Future Program” adopted by the Coalition Government on June 3 in 2020.

Specifically, according to the HFA under §19, both better internal and cross-sector care, process organization, documentation, communication, telemedicine, robotics, and high-tech medicine as well as the expansion of modern emergency capacities are to be funded. From January 01 in 2021 the Federal and State Governments will make around 4.3 billion Euros available to the Hospital Future Fund via the liquidity reserve of the Health Fund.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn commented: “We are investing in the digital future because we have just experienced in the pandemic how important well-equipped and functioning hospitals are. And we are stretching our protective umbrella for hospitals further because we know that some hospitals are still suffering from the financial consequences of the pandemic.”

What are the requirements for receiving the subsidies?

A key prerequisite for receiving funding under the HFA is a measurably more digital way of working, which must be evaluated based on a structured self-assessment by June 30 in 2021 and June 30 in 2023 respectively.

How to apply for funding from the Federal Social Security Agency (FSSA)?

Hospital operators can register their funding needs with the respective federal state using the forms provided by the Federal Social Security Agency (FSSA). Following the hospital’s application for funding, the respective federal state has three months to decide whether to apply to FSSA for funding and for which projects. In this context, it is important that the applications of the federal states for the Hospital Future Fund’s funding amount are due to be submitted to the FSSA by December 31 in 2021. Therefore all hospital operators should ensure to submit the funding applications to their states by September 2021 at the latest to account for the states’ three-month processing time.

The digital hospital compass of birkle IT: A profitable approach to digital transformation in healthcare

In the field of digitalized measurement of patient satisfaction, birkle IT’s “Digital Clinic Compass” is a positive example of an uncomplicated, innovative and profitable approach to digital transformation in healthcare. It offers real-time-patient-feedback for quality assurance. Through the automatic analysis of the data, all information is available in real-time and without detours for the administration and management of the hospital.

There are several options for designing and conducting the survey, adapted to the needs of the patients.

  • The first option is ready-to-use tablets with customizable survey software. The accessible and multilingual user interface enables feedback opportunities across the board. This ensures that all patients can answer the questions independently and without difficulty.

  • As a second option anonymous QR codes can be generated on the ward. Patients can use these to answer the “Digital Clinic Compass” with their own device. The answer is always anonymous and the data is handled in a DPR-compliant manner.

Increased use of current patient surveys for management decisions opens up great opportunities for previously untapped optimization potential. Comprehensive feedback opportunities through patients can ultimately not only improve the performance of hospitals but also strengthen trust in healthcare facilities.


The “Digital Clinic Compass” from birkle IT combines technology and business processes in a unique way. It was developed together with the ATOS Clinics Group and has led to the digitization of patient questionnaires and an efficient management dashboard.
In addition, digitalization projects have already been successfully implemented together with one of the largest university hospitals in Europe. Further new and innovative digital concepts are to follow.

About birkle IT

birkle IT is a leading software development company with offices in Munich, Berlin, and Tallinn. Agile development is in our DNA and part of our entire software development lifecycle. With expertise in machine learning and data science, consulting, enterprise software, and DevOps, we deliver a wide range of customized solutions tailored to our clients’ needs.

To ensure the highest quality, we focus on continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI-CD) with a clear emphasis on unit-, integration and end-to-end testing as a whole. We involve our customers in the development and progress of the project from the beginning. Ongoing feedback rounds from the beginning to the end of the project help us to ensure the desired outcome for all stakeholders.