Limited Reimbursement and Underuse of Digital Healthcare Concepts Are Major Barriers to Clinical Allergological Care in Germany

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2023;184(6):598-608. doi: 10.1159/000529708. Epub 2023 Apr 4.

Abstract

Introduction: Allergic diseases represent a broad spectrum of high-prevalence, chronic conditions that remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. The aims of this interdisciplinary, questionnaire-based, non-interventional study were to identify and analyze potential barriers to clinical allergological care in Germany.

Methods: All hospitals listed in the German hospital register involved in the treatment of allergological patients (n = 899) were invited to participate. The study yielded a response rate of 52.1% (n = 468).

Results: Overall, 88.5% of clinics agreed that allergological care in Germany needs improvement, especially in terms of reimbursement for diagnostics and therapy. More than 80% of participating clinics reported that the decreased availability of test substances and the time-intensity of allergological testing represent relevant barriers. For dermatology and pulmonology, the former is the strongest barrier, while for pediatric and ENT clinics, time-intensity is regarded as the strongest barrier. The availability of good therapy and appropriate guidelines present no barriers to allergological care. Regarding the use of digital healthcare concepts, a very large majority of clinics (n = 352; 91.4%) do not offer video consultations or the use of health applications in patient care.

Conclusion: In conclusion, we have identified several structural barriers to allergological care in Germany. Reimbursement and the use of digital healthcare concepts in German clinics providing allergological care need improvement. Based on the results of this study, there is an urgent need for researchers and policymakers to further investigate and support allergology departments in their clinical work and in their implementation of digital healthcare concepts.

Keywords: Allergy; Allergy care; Barrier; Healthcare; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity* / therapy