Telemedicine in Germany: A Complete Guide for International Patients

Telemedicine in Germany: A Complete Guide for International Patients

MedicusUnion Team
MedicusUnion Team

January 29, 2024

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Germany is one of the largest European healthcare markets, including telemedicine services. In this article, we will answer the questions that will help international patients to understand the concept of telemedicine and its successful use in this country.

Telemedicine is a rapidly growing field of healthcare that involves the use of technology to provide remote medical care to patients. The global telemedicine market was valued at USD 60.8 billion in 2022 and is expected to reach USD 225 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 17.9%.

How is telemedicine interpreted in Germany?

The Medical Associations of Physicians  (Ärztekammern) in Germany describe telemedicine as a wide range of areas of medical care that combine an approach to providing medical services remotely in the areas of diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation and the use of information and communication technologies for this purpose.

What types of telemedicine services are allowed in Germany?

  • Telemedicine consultation;
  • Teleconsilium which enables the transmission of images via electronic communication of images between specialists from different medical institutions. 
  • Telemonitoring for timely, data-based disease management for remote patient care. In telemonitoring, vital parameters or other data related to the patient are transmitted from the patient to the physician and, if necessary, therapy is adjusted based on these data.
  • Telesurgery, which is not allowed, but not prohibited either. The fact is that telesurgery is not yet practiced in Germany because the technical requirements are not yet sufficiently developed.

Since when is telemedicine authorized in Germany and by whom is it regulated?

Telemedicine has been permitted in Germany since 2018 and is regulated by the German Federal Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer).

Is telemedicine allowed in all German federal states?

Telemedicine is allowed in all federal states except Brandenburg.

Are telemedicine services covered by insurance?

Health insurance companies in Germany cover the cost of online consultations in all federal states except Brandenburg, as telemedicine is still prohibited there. 

Can all medical specialists practice telemedicine in Germany?

Telemedicine is a form of medical practice like any other, and teleconsultations are open to all qualified medical professionals in Germany, regardless of the field of medicine in which they work and the type of patients they serve (private or health insurance). In addition, psychotherapists can also carry out telemedicine by billing health insurance companies.

How should a patient prepare for a telemedicine consultation?

  • Provide his/her age, diagnosis;
  • provide information about the tests performed, e.g. radiological images (X-ray, ultrasound, CT, MRI, PET/KT) as well as the doctors' report;
  • prepare questions that the patient would like to ask the German specialists.

Is the patient's personal data protected when using telemedicine?

Telemedicine in Germany is subject to various regulations regarding data privacy. The processing of medical data is authorized on the basis of consent, which must be voluntary, specific, informed and unambiguous. Consent may not be required in particular if the processing is necessary for the purposes of prevention, medical diagnosis, provision of medical care or treatment. Physicians are bound by strict medical confidentiality, but may only disclose patient data to third parties if the patient concerned expressly releases the physician from confidentiality obligations.

Сonclusion:

Thus, telemedicine is being actively developed in Germany nowadays, whereby foreign patients can receive medical services remotely via secure communication channels that ensure compliance with the law as well as protection of personal data.

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