The apoBank supports physicians in managing their doctor’s office

The Deutsche Apotheker- und Ärztebank (apoBank for short) is part of the cooperative banks in Germany and is headquartered in Düsseldorf. With a balance sheet total of more than 48 billion euros and over 470,000 customers, its customer base is concentrated on academic healthcare professions such as doctors, dentists, psychotherapists and pharmacists. In a preliminary study, the apoBank wanted to find out what needs exist in particular among physicians in private practice to support practice management.

Analogue-digital consulting as a success factor

It was clear to all project participants early on that a satisfactory solution would neither be a purely digital nor a purely analogue product. Rather, a hybrid result should be worked out, which accompanies the doctors in both the digital and the analogue world. In addition, the customer should be in the focus during the entire product development, which is why apoBank decided to integrate the Fraunhofer FIT Design Thinking Factory with its expertise in the development of human-centered products and services into the project. In a first step, FIT planned to conduct meaningful user studies to gain a deep insight into the world of apoBank customers. On the basis of the knowledge gained, a paper prototype was then to be created as a conceptual foundation for later implementation.

The "Lifeworld doctor’s office"

In the practical implementation of the previously planned steps, Fraunhofer FIT first initiated the empathy phase, following the methods of the Design Thinking approach, in order to better understand the doctors' living environment. The aim was to find out what obstacles exist in the everyday work of doctors apart from their curative activities. To this end, guideline-based interviews were conducted with doctors and practice employees, primarily to gain a better understanding of the administrative tasks in a medical practice. Requirements were then derived from the interviews, which were first prioritized and then subjected to a feasibility assessment. The most important requirements should then serve the further development of a hybrid solution.

Several iterations to the prototype

In a second step, a paper prototype for a business analysis tool was developed in collaboration with apoBank based on the interviews and observations. In several iteration steps, Fraunhofer FIT together with apoBank employees designed a software interface that was based on the user requirements of a medical practice as well as on the core competencies of apoBank. At the end of the design thinking process, a prototype was created, which served the software developers of apoBank as a foundation for the further development process. FIT and apoBank have decided to use a so-called "horizontal" prototype, which represents basic functions of a program and gives the users an impression of the overall system.

The results of the collaboration were ultimately incorporated into the optiPrax application. The digital doctor’s office consultation supports healthcare professionals, for example in financial matters or in location planning.