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„Sick Room Should Rather Look Like a Hotel Room“

„Sick Room Should Rather Look Like a Hotel Room“ talked to Dr. Uwe Kremer, executive director of MedEcon Ruhr GmbH which developed the concept for the health region Bochum about the relevance of the competition and patient care in the future. Mister Kremer, are we going to get a medical gap in Germany meaning that patients will receive better treatment in some regions than in others?

Uwe Kremer: 20 regions are being promoted so far which has already activated dynamics that are also positive for other regions. The competition has allowed for great creativity which has resulted in many thoughts and ideas that are also worthwhile for us even if we do not win the competition in the end. The competition „health regions of the future“ tries to interrelate actors from research, economy and health care. Why is this important?

Kremer: The big potentials in innovation originate at the interfaces of these three areas. These potentials need to be released. Otherwise we continue, for example, to develop many things in research that do not enter medicine. Your region has already taken the first hurdle in the competition. Why should it be chosen as the future health region?

Kremer: We have developed intelligent urban care systems for a metropolitan region with more than five million inhabitants. Since people become ever older we are in need of a new way to ensure medical care. For example, it becomes important that medical care takes place close to home and that hospitals represent centres of the districts. What does „intelligent urbane care system“ exactly mean?

Kremer: One of the main aims is to replace high care areas - stationary care with intensive care - with the low care areas – care with less medical expenses. We would like to create zones between the domestic and the stationary care for patients who do not need intensive medical supervision. The classic sick-room should rather look like hotel rooms. It should remind us more of a recovery room than of a sick-room. A domestic atmosphere should accelerate the recovery process and lower the relapse rates. Moreover, there should altogether be more services that relieve high care areas. Why is the classic model not sufficient anymore?

Kremer: The economics are one factor. The classic model is very expensive because patients stay in the hospital bed for a long time and this often is not necessary at all from a medical point of view. The other factor: Rehabilitation has become much more relevant than before in order to avoid relapses. Any more highlights in your concept?

Kremer: Another highlight is the personalised medicine. We want to get a better grasp upon specific profiles and develop more individual methods of treatment. Different people do not necessarily react the same way to the same drugs. Through producing a personal profile we want to enable different scientific facilities and companies of the Ruhr district to come together – all somehow involved in processes ranging from diagnosis up to rehabilitation and thus built up a value added chain. This sounds quite complicated.

Kremer: Well, this is the trick! Indeed, many actors are involved and the question whether the region can afford such effort still remains. Speaking of it: How is your concept actually going to be financed?

Kremer: These are unanswered questions. At the moment we are still thinking about ideas and innovations and many questions are not yet solved. Does the competition also matter internationally?

Kremer: Yes, I think that the best regions are going to be recognised by other countries. I am convinced that the winners of this competition are also going to be chosen on the grounds of their international significance.

The interview was conducted by Anke Barth.


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Additional Information

The nationwide competition „health region of the future“ was convened by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in January 2008. Five regions are going to be promoted with a total of 40 million Euros in 2009 so that they can realise their concepts.

The background: A cooperation concentrated on the regional level is important for innovations entering health service quickly. Thus, health economy in Germany should be strengthened, patient's care be improved and costs be cut.

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