In the healthcare sector, too, policymakers want to focus slowly but surely on digitization. But as in so many other areas, the process of change is slow. The best example is the electronic certificate of incapacity to work (eAU). Among other things, this should make it possible for companies to easily retrieve an eAU via an online portal. Employers and employees in particular will benefit from this. However, it has now emerged that many doctors are not yet making use of the new system.
Sluggish start of the eAU
Actually, the eAU should be a boon for all involved. After all, the digitization of the certificate of incapacity for work was supposed to finally put a stop to the annual paper chaos. Since January 1, 2023, employers are now also required to retrieve an eAU from their employees via the corresponding portal at the health insurance company. But apparently digitization in the healthcare sector is off to a slow start. At least, this is what emerges from a report by Golem.de. The colleagues checked with business associations to find out how eAU is getting off the ground. And the results are sobering. But let’s start with the positive news. According to business associations, employers have already accessed an eAU 7 million times in February 2023 alone.
But the goal of simplification doesn’t really materialize in the process. After all, not all medical practices are currently participating in the far-reaching digitization by any means. According to statistics from the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), only 87 percent of practices are currently using the eAU. As long as not all doctors participate in the new system without exception, employers will have to put up with having to process both classic AUs and modern eAUs. Of course, this clearly misses the goal of the desired simplification. Yet everything could be so uncomplicated. After all, the system is really practical. As Techniker Krankenkasse states, employers now simply need to retrieve an eAU from the relevant health insurer via a secure program.
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Everyone must join
In summary, it must be said that the eAU is a practical way to streamline the paperwork as well as the workload that the previous AU meant. However, the whole thing is only of any use if all the departments are really pulling in the same direction. And that is where the practices seem to be lacking at the moment. Often, however, it is not necessarily the will of the doctors that is at fault, but the sheer amount of work that the doctors have to cope with. Indeed, while employers and health insurers are happy about simplification, the eAU does not necessarily bring only advantages for physicians. For example, the magazine praktischArzt has been able to work out that an eAU keeps the doctor’s computer busy for about 30 seconds.
During that time, the digital certificate of incapacity is created and sent. The problem, however, is that the doctor cannot accomplish anything else with the computer during this time. Over the course of the day, this adds up to several minutes of wasted time. Consequently, this is a real time eater, and the only way to get rid of it is to add another computer. On top of that, some doctors’ offices complain that the eAU can only be sent after 6 pm. Incidentally, if something goes wrong with the mailing, the doctors also face a double burden. After all, they then also have to issue a classic AU afterwards. Here, the medical profession definitely needs more support from politicians. Only when everyone is pulling in the same direction can the eAU have the effect it is supposed to.