“The future was better in the past as well.” Representatives of the health care industry often quote this popular bon mot by the Bavarian comedian Karl Valentin when they talk about the development of hospitals and medical care facilities in the next few years.
No doubt, the German health care system is still among the best and most advanced in international comparison. However, unfortunately recent developments have shown that reforms need to be implemented very carefully to make sure that standards do not decline due to excessive restructuring and changes – because this would lead to problems on a hard-to-deal-with scale for the future of the entire health care system.
Health care reforms, aspects of health insurance companies, requirements regarding technology and infrastructure, the need to get good doctors and, last but not least, the requirements of patients, who do not wish to be treated merely as numbers in the hospital routine, but as guests – the health care system is facing a multitude of challenges. And they are one of the reasons why some people have a rather pessimistic view of the future. Is it true, then, that hospitals face challenges that are hard to cope with? Blanket statements are certainly inappropriate in this context – there are too many different requirements that each hospital has to meet or has established to maintain its individual identity.
Since it opened in March 2008, the Isar Medical Centre has been committed to offer the best in every respect – with the express aim to satisfy these future requirements. The successes achieved so far clearly suggest that this path leads to a future success: For example, the previous (loss-making) clinics’ turnover of 7.5 million euros in 2005 increased to 30 million euros in 2009, while the number of employees likewise rose from 120 to currently more than 400. The structural basis of this successful strategy lies in concentrating on selected priority areas: Since its inauguration, the Isar Medical Centre has developed into one of the major German centres for spinal surgery, additional disciplines include surgery, otorhinolaryngology, orthopaedics, urology and internal medicine. These priorities are combined with a broad range of options for patients and medical staff:
In addition to an out-patient clinic, the Centre in the heart of the city of Munich accommodates a radiology and cardiology department, a gastroenterology clinic and an intensive care unit with cutting-edge technological equipment.
Beyond providing medical services, the Isar Medical Centre thinks of itself as a modern centre of service provision and a reliable partner for cooperating doctors – a total of about 120 internationally renowned specialists.
The close proximity of Isar Klinik, the private Pettenkofer Klinik and a number of specialist surgeries represents an ideal infrastructure for realizing this aim. These are key prerequisites for providing medical care at short distance combined with the highest medical standards: The knowledge and know-how of medical specialists is complemented by cutting-edge medical technology to enable safe and effective preventive, out-patient and in-patient treatment and therapy.
To make sure that the medical specialists can fully concentrate on patient treatment, the Isar Medical Centre offers to undertake a number of administrative and organizational tasks, for instance in the areas of patient acquisition, medical billing, negotiations with cost bearers or development of new, promising treatments.
Both doctors and the Isar Medical Centre benefit from this form of cooperation and from contributing their respective core competencies. The pooling of competencies – which in “German” is sometimes referred to as “in-sourcing” rather than “out-sourcing” – enables an outstanding level of quality and is a model approach to coping with existing and future challenges in the health care sector. It aims to take advantage of synergies, which, in addition to saving costs, will help to open new perspectives for world-class medical care – a typical “win-win” situation, which will be even more important with a view to the future.
The Isar Medical Centre will actually turn this into a “triple win” situation, since, as a matter of course, all our efforts are focused on one priority: the benefit of our patients. They also profit from the above-mentioned synergies and cooperation: Leading medical specialists carry out treatments under optimal conditions – as underpinned by the fact that in more than 14,000 (university-hospital-level) interventions performed in 14 months, no serious complications occurred.
And patients profit even more: Most of them, not only privately insured patients, are accommodated in hotel-standard rooms.
For all staff members at the Isar Medical Centre, the first priority regarding patient care is treating patients as guests.
This manifests itself in the large variety of services on offer and in the staff of only highly skilled personnel, who continually undertake further training.
Service is one of the aspects that will be of increasing importance in the health care system of the future. Because informed patients will choose where to undergo treatment. And since holistic well-being is more than just advantageous to recovery, a high level of service will tip the balance in favour of one or the other hospital, once the question of medical expertise has been settled.
In addition, the catchment area of the Isar Medical Centre is expanding, with patients coming from Munich and Bavaria, but also from all over Germany and abroad. This makes it necessary to start marketing the medical facilities and give more attention to public interests – only a hospital that provides accurate and transparent information about its range of services, using modern means of communication to contact interested persons, allows patients and doctors to choose that specific hospital.
Health reforms, economic demands, interests of doctors and patients as well as an increasing globalization – today’s health care system poses a multitude of challenges to the clinics of the future. Nevertheless, “The future was better in the past as well” is a motto which the Isar Medical Centre prefers to leave to Karl Valentin, who, by the way, is said to have been born in the historic Bürklein building of the Isar Medical Centre in 1918.
The Isar Medical Centre is looking forward to the future – it is fully prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
The author was born in 1969 and as chairman of the board of Isar Kliniken GmbH, is responsible for the management of the Isar Medical Centre. He studied business administration in Munich and after obtaining his PhD, established his own business consulting firm. In addition, Dr. Mainka is a lecturer of business administration at the Jena University of Applied Sciences.