Technology adoption easier for German hospitals

1 February 2006

Bonn, Germany. The processes for the introduction of medical technology innovations in the German hospital flat-rate reimbursement (DRG) system have been significantly improved and accelerated.

“In terms of the financing of innovations, the time that it takes until a DRG is included in the system is less than the two-year period previously discussed,” said Karl-Heinz Tuschen from the Federal Ministry of Health at the MedInform conference “Medical technology in the G-DRG system” on 24 January 2006 in Bonn. MedInform is the information and seminar service of BVMed.

It is now important to critically examine whether the financing during the transition period is sufficient. “First of all, we must gather experience. This does not rule out future amendments,” said Mr Tuschen. He called for innovations to be introduced as quickly as possible into specialist hospitals, until they have been sufficiently tested. Which innovations and where they should be introduced would be a matter for the healthcare partners at a regional level, he said.

“We have an innovative industry,” Dr. Wulf-Dietrich Leber from the AOK (Germany’s largest health insurance fund) federal association noted. The procedure for the adoption of new examination and treatment forms (NUB) was, however, hardly a reference point, he claimed. “99 per cent of innovations create improved processes and reduce the length of stay and do therefore not appear in the NUB procedures,” Dr. Leber said.

He also envisaged faster procedures — particularly via the flexible special charges of the DRG institute (InEK): “the time-lag for innovations has thus become significantly shorter. Essentially, we no longer have innovation gaps.” Companies experienced an advantage in that complex medical technology procedures were better reflected through a progressive DRG splitting mechanism and broadened calculation data, the conference’s moderator, BVMed Director General Joachim M. Schmitt, said in his summary.

According to the health ministry, the structure of the new reimbursement system following the completion of the convergence phase in 2009 will be a matter for discussion by spring 2007 at the latest. At this point a draft law will be made available, that could act as the foundation for a political discussion. The new law must then be passed by the middle of 2008, so that it can be implemented on 1 January 2009. According to Tuschen, it was clear that: “The introduction of the DRG system as well as the orientation in favour of competition and achievement are irreversible.”

Source: BVMed www.bvmed.de/

View more BVMed news in the BVMed Report of February 2006 (PDF)

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