Integrated Healthcare Management

The annual German economic burden of diabetes and chronic wounds reaches 6.3 billion euros and 4.5 billion euros respectively. The high costs incurred hereby could be reduced by specifically addressing the healthcare supply chain (doctors, nurses, healthcare centers). However, integrated care programs for patients suffering from these diseases are still lacking in most cases. There is no basic knowledge available regarding patient behavior and process flow and, as a result, no solid fundamental knowledge can be used to establish integrated structures of care in the healthcare system. The starting point for the competence tandem is to develop business models for diabetes and wound care by implementing new approaches to controlling healthcare services. This integrated healthcare management aims to bundle the different components of patient care – such as drug purchase control, sick pay, medical care or rehabilitation measures – in one service provider. Providing integrated care therefore allows to meet the patient’s individual needs even better. In a second step, the business models are reviewed. The research team particularly looks at the processes of patient care and at how these processes are organized by the medical service providers and insurance companies. It also tries to find out where innovations can be fed into the processes and institutional structures in place.

New Approaches to Chronic Diseases

The "Management Models in Integrated Care" competence tandem  is looking at ways of developing and establishing structures of integrated care for people suffering from diabetes and chronic wounds. A team of professors from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, the Hamburg Asklepios Clinics and the Karlsruhe Municipal Clinic, jointly with the international tandem partner Prof. Dr. Peter Zweifel from Zurich University, is designing new models for structured integrated care. The models aim at improving treatment of patients and, at the same time, at reducing costs of treatment. The research project combines economic, business economics and medical approaches to solving problems. Participants in the project are closely collaborating with partners from the field of knowledge management and medical care to transfer the gained knowledge to a business model.

The competence tandem deals with the question of how to provide high-quality and, at the same time, affordable medical care for patients with chronic diseases. The research activities are aimed at offering new and better ways of providing patient care by establishing network structures for patients with diabetes and chronic wounds. The objective is to reduce healthcare costs region-wide by applying clearly defined strategies – for example by systematically expanding medical examinations that help to identify risk groups at an early stage – and to achieve improved clinical outcomes for high-risk patients.

The business model and the related scientific analyses aim to identify starting points for improving diabetes and wound care. Researches involved in this project are expected to provide not only general ideas on improving the organizational structure of the healthcare system (process management), but also ideas on how to shape and optimize the business model, particularly in the field of contract management.

The project is intended to run over three years and is started in October 2011. It analyzes integrated care networks in treating diabetes and chronic wounds and evaluates the accompanying healthcare management. Participants in this project review previous approaches, provide support in implementing new approaches and give ideas on how to optimize integrated care for patients suffering from diabetes or chronic wounds. The competence tandem builds on the following fields of academic work:

  • Business studies on supply management and supply services organization.
  • Economic research in the field of insurance, market failure and incentives provided by legal provisions and institutions.
  • Medical and health economics research regarding the quality of different treatment sequences.

At first, potential forms of contract are evaluated to clearly define the market area and the market potential and hence to identify the savings potentials. In addition, previous treatment processes are analyzed to identify potential optimization opportunities from the perspective of business economics. Also, the agents’ profiles are analyzed to find out whether and to what extent incentive-based change of behavior in patients is possible. To collect the relevant data, qualitative interviews (case studies) and quantitative analyses are used on a regular basis.

The competence tandem is headed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Wein, Professor for Economics, and Prof. Dr. Ursula Weisenfeld, Professor for Innovation Management at the Institute of Economics at Leuphana University. Prof. Dr. Martin Storck, Director of the Clinic for Vascular and Thoracic Surgery at the Karlsruhe Municipal Clinic, and Dr. Holger Lawall, Head of the Department of Vascular Medicine/Angiology and Diabetology at the Hamburg Asklepios Clinics, support the team as external medical partners. International tandem partner of the project is Prof. Dr. Peter Zweifel from the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich.