In the Segeberg administrative district, numerous out-patient, in-patient and semi-out-patient service providers of the medical industry have associated under the brand “Gesundheitsregion” (health region). In an interview with health manager Katharina Silies, Bad Segeberg district administrator Jutta Hartwieg explains the strengths of the Southern Holstein health economy.
Good morning, Mrs. Hartwieg.
Have you already done something for your health today?
Jutta Hartwieg: (Laughs) Weren’t we going to talk about the health economy in the Segeberg administrative district? But you’re right. If we’re going to talk about health, we should start with ourselves. My job as district administrator has many unhealthy aspects: stress, workload, irregular meals, etc. That’s why I get up early, so that I can start the day quietly. I also have an office bicycle – that allows me to combine nearby appointments with a little exercise.
Well then, what is the condition of the Segeberg administrative district?
In terms of the health economy?
Excellent. Of the seven largest employers in the Segeberg region, four are in the health sector, with the Ethicon company of Norderstedt at the very top. In the Segeberg administrative district, a total of 13 per cent of the working population is active in the health sector, making that the second most important branch of our economy.
In the area of in-patient care inside hospitals, only Kiel and Lübeck are better provided for with regard to the number of inhabitants. In certain disciplines, our professionals are so good that they provide services beyond their region. The heart centre of the Segeberg hospitals, for example, carries out 7,000 left ventricular angiographies yearly – the university hospital of Lübeck does around 4,200!
Sülfeld, one of our municipalities with a population of approximately 3,400, is the location of the Research Center Borstel, which is internationally active as the Leibniz Center for Medicine and Biosciences. We take great pride in that, of course. The Segeberg district is co-founder of the research centre and, as such, represented in the board of trustees and in the foundation assembly. Three of our six hospitals are accredited teaching hospitals – so we can always have our finger on the pulse of current research and science.
The district capital Bad Segeberg is the seat of two important healthcare institutions: the Medical Association of Schleswig-Holstein and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Schleswig-Holstein. Last but not least, let’s talk about the traditional connection between health and nature in our region. We have two health spas, Bad Segeberg and Bad Bramstedt, which are blossoming into modern health locations with offers in not only the classic rehab field but also medical wellness and health tourism.
In the field of in-patient prevention and rehabilitation, we come in fourth out of 15 regional entities in Schleswig-Holstein. The newly founded Health Tourism Competence Centre in Bad Bramstedt will be further driving that development for the administrative district of Segeberg and for Schleswig-Holstein.
What does the administrative district as a regional entity do in that field?
We emphasize networking. Gesundheitsregion Segeberg, a network of healthcare-related companies, was founded in 2001 and is being coordinated by the district of Segeberg. Events are held under the “Gesundheitsregion” (health region) brand, for example, based on the theme of children’s and youth health, a field in which our administrative action is spread across agencies. Since 2008, we have initiated and supported another network project: MedComm – Regionalmanagement Gesundheit Südholstein. We have set up an office, from where events and projects are initiated and coordinated. For that, we obtain funds from the economic future programme “Zukunftsprogramm Wirtschaft” and are further supported by all hospitals in the adminstrative district. With this project, we intend to set a signal that goes beyond the district of Segeberg: The health economy is enormously relevant to our future – as a growth market, job engine and answer to the pending challenges of a healthy society. We must gear up for that in a joint effort between politicians, administrators and businesses. The citizens, too, are being solicited. In the AktivRegion associations of the Segeberg adminstrative district, such as “Holsteins Herz” (Holstein’s heart), everyone can participate and realize projects. Here, health and quality of life are the number-one field of action. AktivRegion is also involved in the health park project at the Segeberg lake, “Gesundheitspark am Großen Segeberger See”. In Bad Segeberg, a new health location concept is emerging, which combines existing and new offerings under a common brand. The health theme must become more prominent and come alive – people should be able to enjoy taking care of their health and become aware of the many choices available to them. If people are not interested in their health, businesses will not have customers.
Am Forschungszentrum in Borstel werden unter anderem neue Methoden zur Erkennung und Behandlung von Lungenerkrankungen entwickelt.
I would also like to point out that our administration has been very competent, although it has sometimes been working in a bit too much obscurity – if you take the case of the swine flu, for example, proof of closeness and commitment to citizens was made.
Where are today’s weak spots?
Or does the future hold problems?
With regard to problems with the health economy or healthcare, the demographic change plays an important role. The population is ageing in the Segeberg administrative districtas well. With regard to general practitioner care, we have about 1,600 people per general practitioner; in 2015, it will be over 2,700. The administrative districts of Schleswig-Holstein currently average at about 1,500 inhabitants per general practitioner. In addition, care in the Segeberg adminstrative district is structurally variable. Norderstedt in the wealthy suburbs of Hamburg is better off than the northeast of the district.
Key to the health economy is, of course, the supply of new recruits of skilled workers. Through MedComm, we have studied the development in the training and employment of health professionals, and it is obvious: We have to do much more advertisement for that job market, which scores high in terms of diversity and crisis-proofness.
Less than five per cent joblessness in the health professions! Other branches can only dream of that.
What are your strategies for improvement here?
We work very closely with the players in various committees. The care conference of the Segeberg adminstrative district has drafted a strategic paper around the theme of pension plans: Growing older in the Segeberg region. The central statement is that the elderly should live longer in their own domestic circles. To that avail, they require networks and individual services in the homecare field – that, too, is a future market for small businesses in particular. The key phrase “living at home”, of course, brings up telemedicine. Nowadays already, there are great ways to communicate with your doctor or hospital from home or even to transmit vital statistics such as ECG, pulse, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Such possibilities are, of course, particularly important for the chronically ill and rural healthcare. In the Segeberg adminstrative district, we already have a telemedical centre at the Segeberg hospitals, which have had very good experiences with cardiac patients. Currently, a new project is being initiated by the Segeberg adminstrative district, with which the heart sounds of unborn children during pregnancy can be transmitted to the labour ward from home any time of day or night. Such offerings create sustainable quality of life even in rural areas, and we want to score with that.
What is your vision for 2020?
First, I would like to see more transparency and clarity. Patients should be seen more as customers and access to the appropriate medical care facilitated, for example, when you’re new in town.
Next, I would hope that we learn to value our health and health-related services better – away from the attitude that the insurance is going to pay and toward more personal health initiative. At work, employers have to do their part by presenting health promotion as being something useful and offering the staff something such as fitness rooms, which is already common practice in other countries under the motto “work-life balance”. Last but not least, I wish that our region may find its way back to its tradition when it comes to health, and develop an authentic offering, which not only is modern but also fits into its natural and economic landscape.
Jutta Hartwieg is chief executive of the adminstrative district of Segeberg. She studied computer science and education, taught in various educational establishments, and developed computer-aided learning systems. She set up and directed numerous IT projects, among others as consultant in the German parliament. As a self-employed management consultant and trainer, she has aided with reform processes and trained executives