Caterna | Updates

By Jana Frömke

Legislative Change Offers Caterna new Opportunities in Telemedicine


Dear Companists,

Today we would like to tell you about the great potential of an innovation this year: The loosening of the ban on remote treatment. A progressive liberalization of digital consultation and treatment options by practicing physicians also offers new opportunities and possibilities for telemedical companies. But first, some context:


Loosening of the ban on remote treatment

At the beginning of May 2018, the 121st German Doctors' Congress in Erfurt approved an amendment to the medical (Model) Occupational Code (MBO), which relaxes the previous prohibition of exclusive remote treatment under occupational law. Consultation and treatment of existing patients via communication media such as telephone or Internet were previously available. The change now regulates that, if medically justifiable, exclusive remote treatment without initial personal contact should be possible in individual cases. The doctor therefore decides whether it is possible to carry out consultation and treatment exclusively via communication media in compliance with medical due diligence. Now it is the turn of the regional medical associations to implement these changes.

This loosening allows physicians more room to maneuver, can reduce the workload on practices, shorten waiting times for patients, and guarantee better access to specialists in rural areas as well. This has set a good signal for the spread of telemedical applications in Germany.


Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein pave the way

Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein assumed a pioneering role even before the decision was made to open up the market. Several telemedical model projects approved by the State Medical Association have been running in Baden-Württemberg since the end of 2017. Schleswig-Holstein already amended its professional regulations to allow telemedical treatment for initial contact with local doctors in April 2018.

Much has happened since the decision in May: The proposed changes have already been adopted by the state medical associations in Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony, Bremen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Berlin, Lower Saxony, and Thuringia. Bavaria intends to vote on it this month. However, some of the respective health ministries or administrations have yet to agree before the regulation finally comes into force.  


Opportunities for Caterna

Of course, a digital consultation cannot replace direct patient contact and, in particular, a diagnosis of visual impairment - but it can complement it. What does this mean for Caterna? Through the loosening of the ban, a telemedical practitioner could in future advise parents and patients more quickly and, if necessary, issue a prescription based on the diagnosis documented by the ophthalmologist. This would mean that parents and patients would no longer have to wait long for their next appointment at the ophthalmologist's and could autonomously initiate therapies for their child. For us, the lengthy and labor-intensive monitoring of the prescription process would be shortened and simplified - again with a positive influence on the scalability of the Caterna therapy. We are currently already in discussions with ophthalmologists in the federal states mentioned, health insurance companies that reimburse Caterna, and various platforms that offer online consultation hours. We want to make it possible for patients to start Caterna therapy as soon as possible via an online consultation.

We are very pleased that the loosening of the ban on remote treatment has set the right signal for telemedicine in Germany and hope to be able to report initial successes soon!

Best greetings,

Jana Frömke


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