Healthcare resources are frequently used inappropriately and do not reflect medical reasons or people’s needs. The Healthcare Fact Check looks at the underlying causes and aims to foster discussion on solutions so that health services are better aligned with the actual needs of patients.
Over-, under- and misuse in healthcare have long been a subject of discussion among experts in Germany and worldwide. Valuable resources are used inappropriately and unnecessarily, and often the regional provision of healthcare services and the range of healthcare options offered do not reflect people’s needs.
The Healthcare Fact Check (Faktencheck Gesundheit), a project set up by the Bertelsmann Foundation, seeks to create pressure for change in two ways:
- By showing and analysing unwarranted regional variations in healthcare over time and in single relevant healthcare issues
- By empowering patients through better information about their healthcare options
With our project we thus not only address health policy makers, practitioners, payers or scientists but also the general public. We want to raise awareness for the existing problems and spark discussion about possible solutions among both groups, experts and lay people.
With the Healthcare Fact Check we want to make a contribution so that
- Health services are better aligned with the actual needs of patients, and limited resources are used more appropriately
- People actively engage in discussions on which services match their needs and how healthcare can be shaped in a better way
- Citizens become more involved with health services in their region, better understand the health system and necessary reforms, and increase their trust in the system
Looking at regional variations over time
The Healthcare Fact Check has so far published two compendium reports illustrating different cases of regional variations in healthcare in brief, ranging from caesarean section to knee replacement. The first report was published in 2011, the second report in 2015, allowing for a comparison of regional variations over time.
Next to these compendium reports we have published several themed reports that focus on single relevant healthcare issues such as antibiotic prescriptions for children or the treatment of depression. The themed reports illustrate the range of variations in the different areas, its underlying causes, possible solutions, and they provide the public with relevant information and recommendations for action. Furthermore, there are some Healthcare Fact Check reports focussing on capacity planning and system design, such as the regional density of physician practices or the supply side of palliative care. The English versions of the compendium reports, the English summaries of the themed reports as well as further Healthcare Fact Check publications in English are available for download. All reports include maps to illustrate regional variations in the supply side or healthcare delivery, respectively. These maps are presented on the German project website as well and can be used interactively. To use the interactive maps (in German) please click here.
How can citizens be better informed and engaged?
Besides reports on variations in health care, the Healthcare Fact Check wants to empower patients. It provides patients with check lists to prepare for practice visits as well as with evidence-based patient decision aids. Our concise and easy-to-read Facts Boxes compare different treatment options for a certain disease or screening and show their risks and benefits. The Facts Boxes (in German) can be found here.