Lighthouse digitization project: Caspar Clinic gets certified as a digital center for prevention, rehabilitation, and aftercare
by Jann Gerrit Ohlendorf at September 23, 2022
Caspar Health’s virtual clinic has officially met all the requirements of DIN ISO 9001, according to DEGEMED.
We’re thrilled to announce an official recognition that attests to the high quality of Caspar Clinic’s work: After successfully completing our quality management system audit, the prevention, rehabilitation, and aftercare services provided by the virtual Caspar Clinic have officially met the certification criteria for the German Society for Medical Rehabilitation e.V. (). This represents the first time that a digital facility with a virtual clinic at its forefront is able to offer its services with a certified quality management system – something that was previously reserved for analog establishments. With this certification, DEGEMED has created a framework against which other virtual clinic providers can be measured.
While certification is mandatory for rehabilitation in Germany, this is not the case for aftercare and prevention. However, certifications for both prevention and aftercare are becoming increasingly important, in part due to the quality expectations of funding bodies and patients. Thanks to the successful certification of Caspar Clinic's quality management system, the worlds of analog and digital rehab have now become closer than ever before. All this is possible because Caspar Health – with its combined care offer – meets all the relevant criteria for structures, processes, and results in digital services that apply in analog rehabilitation.
The German Society for Medical Rehabilitation (DEGEMED) is the leading certification provider for rehabilitation facilities, thanks to its many years of experience and specialized expertise. Among the five certification providers in Germany, DEGEMED certainly stands out. For starters, in order to receive this certification, the Federal Working Group for Rehabilitation (BAR) expanded the relevant ISO standard 9001:2015 to include clinic-specific aspects such as treatment concepts and proof of qualification for medical staff. DEGEMED notes that certifications are gaining importance in the realm of rehabilitation. In an online presentation of its quality management audits, the organization writes: "Offering quality-oriented care, documenting it, and communicating this service to the outside world is becoming increasingly important for rehabilitation facilities. Rehabilitation patients want information about the quality of the services offered at clinics in order to select the facility that’s right for them. Service providers should increasingly plan to use quality criteria in occupancy management." ()
The German pension insurance to increase quality requirements
In fact, the basic conditions for medical rehabilitation will be updated as early as next summer. From July 2023 onwards, the German Pension Fund (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) – the main funding body – will place a much stronger focus on quality. According to Clarissa Tuchel, a certified quality management officer at Caspar Clinic, the focus will be on four areas:
- Patient satisfaction
- Structural quality
- Process quality
- Quality of results
The following diagram demonstrates how the DRV's quality management system will change starting in summer of next year:
Tuchel explains, "A well-established quality management system provides the very structures that can enable optimal quality for the funding bodies." As she sees it, Caspar Clinic entered the certification process in a great position, in part because the virtual clinic had been set up in such a systematic way. "When we established the Caspar Clinic, we made sure to work with written processes from the start. We had a quality manual from day one, and worked according to the principles of a quality management system very early on. That certainly helped us achieve this certification."
Filippo Martino, MD, the medical director of the Caspar Clinic, adds: "In the development of the virtual Caspar Clinic, we set a goal from the very beginning to make our quality of care measurable, and to continuously improve it. This year, we’ve also expanded the Caspar Clinic to include new multimodal offers, and have positioned ourselves – in an interdisciplinary sense – even more broadly. In addition to expertise in the areas of nutrition, psychology and speech therapy, we've also built up a team of physicians. Quality and safety for both our patients and partner clinics are top priorities for us at Caspar Health, which is why we continually sought out certification during this expansion."
The steps toward certification – with the digital difference
While Caspar Clinic's standard work and processes already left us well positioned for certification, brand new offers and tools were also used during the certification phase. First, all documents and processes are managed via powerful, user-friendly software. This provides systematic quality assurance, while simultaneously increasing transparency. Caspar Clinic has also integrated tools – such as interdisciplinary case discussions and medical consultations – into the quality management system. During the audit, the auditor came to the clinic itself, while a physician was responsible for auditing the medical area.
One particular challenge for the audit was that although Caspar Clinic meets all the relevant requirements, it operates digitally. Thus, the audit needed to clearly define a new criteria profile for the first time, against which digital service providers in rehabilitation will be measured in the future. “Ultimately, the certification states that, in terms of our readiness for digital expansion, we meet all the standards for prevention, rehabilitation, and aftercare that also matter in analog therapy," Martino says.
Following the audit, the final report was reviewed by the certification organization. The actual certificate arrived a few weeks later. “Thanks to this certification, we’re now involved in a continuous, systematic improvement process. Further, regular audits will also give us the opportunity to successively improve and expand our range of services under the quality requirements of digital therapy – both for our partner clinics and the patients we care for," states Tuchel.
Certification as a signal to the healthcare industry
Successful certification is a significant step in Caspar Health’s development. However, it also sends an important signal to the healthcare industry in Germany. On the one hand, it shows that it’s possible to design virtual clinics in such a way that they meet the highest industry standards in terms of performance, quality, and transparency. On the other hand, existing certification tools can be developed further so that they do justice to the specific conditions of virtual clinics. This way, they can guarantee the best conditions for high quality services – be they digital or not – in a transparent and comprehensible way.