What are the challenges facing the healthcare industry

The German healthcare system on the test bench

Which “medicine” can make the ailing German health industry fit for the future

The German healthcare industry is facing immense challenges. The industry, politics and the population know that the healthcare system can only be future-proof through profound change and new framework conditions. This involves, for example, better types of hospital financing that has long been inadequate, and modern, adequate and citizen-friendly medical services in underserved regions.

It is about higher drug safety, better communication between attending physicians and the implementation of efficient new technologies. Because the creeping loss of quality in the German healthcare industry must be stopped. This also applies to care.

Download study, PDF (1.63 MB)

Information for health - the system and the patient

But how can this project succeed? The PwC study “The German Healthcare System on the Test Stand” answers this question. Development of a therapy plan ". For this exclusively practice-oriented publication, PwC took another look at its health economy population surveys from 2013 to 2018 and linked the statements of almost 15,000 people living in Germany with current political decisions as well as industry and societal developments.

It turned out that the frequently expressed criticism of the respondents is less aimed at medical activities and services and individual treatments, but is more related to the four megatrends: demographic change, digitization, individualization and urbanization. Demographic change alone has noticeable consequences: increasing shortages of skilled workers, less time doctors spend on consultations, longer waiting times for patients at specialist appointments, increasing complexity of care situations and more sickness-related absences, for example.

Relevant sections of the population are critical of hospitals and specialists

According to a population survey by PwC in 2017, 87 percent of those questioned were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their family doctor. With regard to the hospitals, however, only 59 percent said this. And when asked about the specialists, just over half of the survey participants gave their positive assessment.

A lack of doctor's time is increasingly causing criticism

The head of the health economy, Michael Burkhart, states: “Germany experiences attempts at political reform in the health economy about every two years. However, important tasks remain unaffected. ”From the study, Michael Burkhart derives recommendations for a structural restart in medicine and nursing.

"The clinics need more incentives to be among the best in their area of ​​responsibility when it comes to medicine and nursing."

Michael Burkhart, Head of Health Economics

For example, he proposes a predominantly monistic hospital financing by the health insurances, as it already exists in elderly care, rehabilitation and diagnostics. Because the dual financing of hospitals by health insurance companies and federal states regularly leads to conflicts about who has to finance certain services and investments. In the end, often nobody pays and important changes are left out - with negative effects, including on the health of citizens.

It would also reward clinics that focus more on disease prevention than treatment. And if patients would rather choose a different hospital than the one that is actually responsible for them, the “home hospital” would have to pay the treating hospital a certain amount. "This would give every clinic an incentive to be the best in its area of ​​responsibility," says Michael Burkhart.

Promote the health economy in rural areas

For the medically structurally undersupplied rural regions, he suggests centers in which doctors willing to set up a business can get together. The state should support this with business start-up support programs or interest-free start-up loans. E-health systems are an efficient solution for increasing drug safety. Because they can very quickly overlook a large number of active ingredient combinations in medicine and provide the relevant information immediately. Studies show that IT solutions can reduce medication errors by more than 80 percent.

The study gives everyone involved in the German health economy

  • an easily accessible overview of the status quo on the subject,
  • names the main causes of their weaknesses,
  • recommends first steps to meet the challenges and
  • gives further recommendations for the most important fields of action.

The relevance of health can also be measured using economic figures: The gross value added of the German health industry was almost 350 billion euros in 2017, which is one percent higher than in the previous year. And medical care is a driver of this development. It also concerns 4.7 million employees in medical care, one million employees in the industrial health sector and 1.7 million employees in other areas.

Download the valuable information from the study or read it here. The PwC proposals aim to maintain and improve care in the health sector as an important part of services of general interest. We look forward to reflecting on the PwC proposals in a direct exchange.