From Aachen to Zwickau, the provision of appropriate medical care has to be guaranteed for the public throughout Germany. However, in many Healthcare Fact Check studies we have identified regional differences in care that can, at times, be quite significant. For example, in certain districts there are up to 13 times as many surgical interventions for back pain as in others. The differing rates of Caesarian sections have just as little medical basis: While in Dresden around 17 percent of babies are delivered by Caesarian section, in Landau in der Pfalz the rate is 51 percent. To investigate anomalies such as these, we are cooperating with the Science Media Center Germany (SMC), an initiative of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (Klaus Tschira Stiftung) and the German Science Journalists’ Association (Wissenschafts-Pressekonferenz e. V.).
Workshops for journalists by journalists
The SMC uses the Operation Explorer research tool (see box), which highlights and compares the regional differences among Germany’s 402 administrative districts. We want regional journalists with interests in healthcare issues to be able to use this tool. In regularly scheduled workshops, journalists can learn how to conduct research using the database. The SMC also provides advice and support on location and assists in root cause analysis. Here, networks and the sharing of experience with other colleagues also play an important role. The objective is to have the results of research flow into well-founded reporting, so as to trigger changes in the regions that are statistical outliers.