Health: What does the new atlas bring to the “hospital jungle”?

Health: What does the new atlas bring to the “hospital jungle”?

For many patients, finding the right clinic when it comes to a planned operation is not easy. To do this, you can now click on a new portal – and pay attention to speedometers.

Where to go for a new knee joint or major cancer surgery? A new “Federal Hospital Atlas” can now help when deciding on a hospital. The state comparison portal was launched on Friday and is intended to provide information about services and treatment quality at almost 1,700 clinic locations throughout Germany. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) spoke of a “clear guide through the hospital jungle” that should also enable new regional comparisons. There was sharp criticism from the hospital industry. Patient representatives welcomed the goal, but also see gaps.

Lauterbach said that understandable information about good hospital care is now accessible to everyone and is no longer just the privilege of a few experts. Transparency is urgently needed with around 16 million hospital treatments and 500,000 new cancer patients per year alone. Most patients do not have a good idea of ​​which clinic is particularly suitable for their treatment. And there are very big differences in treatments such as colon cancer operations.

Compared to existing information portals, Lauterbach made it clear that what is unique about the Federal Atlas is the way in which data is prepared for patients. “With just a few clicks you can compare clinics and find the best clinic in your area for the treatment you need.” This means you can see and assess ten clinics right next to each other instead of having to “hop from clinic to clinic”. According to the ministry, there were more than five million hits in the first three hours, and some page views were briefly interrupted. The portal www.bundes-klinik-atlas.de will gradually include additional data.

An overview of important features:

The Atlas: You can see, click on and search through a map with all the clinics. The number of beds and the number of annual treatments are listed, which shows the experience. Certificates for treatment areas and how comprehensive emergency care is available at the location are stated. A calculated value indicates the quality of care: It results from the number of patients per nurse taking into account the severity of the cases. And the lower the value, the better.

The search: In the portal you can, for example, enter your place of residence and an illness or a very specific treatment that you are interested in. The system offers search suggestions if you don’t know the technical term. If you have mumps, you can also enter “Ziegenpeter”, said Lauterbach. According to the ministry, 28,000 treatment and 13,000 disease definitions are stored.

The comparisons: There is a kind of speedometer display to help patients understand the situation better. The following applies: the “faster” you go, so to speak, i.e. the further the needle swings to the right, the better. For now, two speedometers can be seen – for the number of annual cases of treatment and for the number of nursing staff in the hospital. The speedometers have five colored elements that the needle can point to – from “very few” to “very many” cases.

The findings: When comparing, you can see that there are “huge differences in the smallest area,” said Lauterbach. There are 48 hospitals in Berlin and the surrounding area that perform colon cancer operations, but only 18 of them are certified as special centers. For severe intestinal disease in children, there are clinics that perform operations more than 70 times a year, but others only perform four. It is not the case that large clinics are automatically always “the winners”. There are also small clinics that are very specialized.

The next stages: In a few weeks, the portal will receive an initial update and will also indicate complication rates for treatments. Figures on the number of specialists available should then also follow. In general, the information is updated regularly, explained the Institute for Quality and Transparency in Health Care, which coordinates implementation. The data is somewhat “lagging”, currently it comes from around the number of cases in 2022. It comes from, among other things, clinics and health insurance bills.

Criticism from the German Hospital Association

The German Hospital Association criticized the federal portal as “political activism at the expense of the taxpayer.” It does not provide patients with any additional information and cannot act as a useful supplement. It would bring even more bureaucracy to the hospitals. The hospital industry recently developed its own online overview. More search functions are now possible on the “German Hospital Directory”, which has existed since 2002.

The German Foundation for Patient Protection explained that people certainly wanted to know about the range of services and the quality. “But the clinic atlas is missing crucial information,” said board member Eugen Brysch. “The quality of patient management in the clinic is not recorded.” There is still a lack of binding guidelines and assessment factors. The German Social Association welcomed the atlas, but it now has to prove itself. “It remains to be seen how great the added value offered for patients really is.”

Source: Stern

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