Implementing coordinated ambulatory cardiology care in southern Germany: a mixed-methods study.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:In 2009 health insurers AOK and Bosch BKK introduced the "FacharztProgramm Kardiologie" - a program for coordinated ambulatory cardiology care in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It aims for efficient, medical guideline-oriented cardiology care to reduce avoidable hospitalizations as well as costs of care. A high number of cardiologists participate and the program has served as blueprint for programs in other medical fields. With many prerequisites and conditions involved, its implementation cannot be expected to be self-directed. Still, only little data on the actual implementation exists. We aimed to determine to what extent medical specialists and cooperating general practitioners implemented the program, which components they adapted, and which contextual factors they deemed relevant. METHODS:We collected data from primary care practices of medical specialists and general practitioners within Baden-Württemberg. Qualitative data was obtained through structured telephone interviews with participating and non-participating medical specialists as well as general practitioners cooperating with the program and general practitioners not cooperating. Interviews were analyzed through content-structuring qualitative content analyses via MAXQDA. Quantitative data was obtained using anonymous written questionnaires completed by participating and non-participating medical specialists as well as general practitioners cooperating with the program. Analyses were performed using SPSS Statistics, mainly with regard to differences within and between groups of physicians. RESULTS:Most components of the program regarding medical care were well implemented. However, access to medical care was not completely as intended due to high numbers of patients participating in the program and prioritization by physicians. Procedures for communication and cooperation between medical specialists and general practitioners were only partially adhered to and standardized communication was not implemented. A range of regional and practice-related contextual factors influenced implementation and outcomes. CONCLUSIONS:Implementation of this program was mixed. Contextual factors posed individual challenges to participating physicians which can't be captured by an encompassing program. Both control mechanisms and tailoring of the program to medical care seem needed. TRIAL REGISTRATION:Though not a clinical study, we deemed registration appropriate to ensure transparency. The study has been registered as a non-interventional observation study at the German Clinical Trials Register under ID: DRKS00013070.
Project description:Background: In face of the looming shortage of general practitioners, primary healthcare providers and post-graduate training in general practice are increasingly becoming part of the political agenda in Germany. In 2009 the program "Verbundweiterbildung plus Baden-Württemberg" (VWB plus BW) was developed by the Competence Center for General Practice in Baden-Wuerttemberg to ensure primary healthcare in the future by enhancing the attractiveness of general medicine. This paper describes the experiences that have been gathered in developing a post-graduate training-program for physicians undergoing specialist training in general practice. Project description: The Competence Center for General Practice in Baden-Wuerttemberg supports the organization of regional networks dedicated to post-graduate medical education. First core element of the VWB plus BW program is a special seminar series for physicians pursuing post-graduate training. This seminar program is aligned with the German competency-based curriculum in general medicine and is meant to promote medical expertise and other related competencies, such as business and medical practice management and communication skills. Mentoring and advising the physicians regarding professional and personal planning form the second core element. The third core element is seen in the train-the-trainer seminars that address the competencies of the trainers. In order to focus the program's content closely on the needs of the target groups, scientifically based evaluations and research are carried out. Results: Since starting in 2009, 685 physicians have entered the program and 141 have passed the examination to become medical specialists (as of December 2016). In total, 31 networks, 60 hospitals and 211 general practices have participated. The seminar sessions have been rated on average with 1.43 on a six-point Likert scale by the physician trainees (1=extremely satisfied, 6=extremely dissatisfied). Alongside the medical training, these physicians viewed the exchange of information and experiences with other physicians as very positive and important. In 185 seminars lasting 90 minutes each, the seminar program has presently covered 250 out of 320 units in the competency-based curriculum for general medicine. A total of 281 trainers have been trained in 13 train-the-trainer courses and have rated this course on average with 1.36 on a six-point Likert scale. Above all, the trainers emphasized the exchange of information and experiences with other trainers as very positive. In 2013 the DEGAM concept for its Verbundweiterbildungplus program was developed based on that of the VWB plus BW. Since 2008 over 40 articles on the topic of post-graduate medical education have been published. Conclusion: The steadily increasing number of participants over the years demonstrates that the VWB plus BW is relevant for recent medical graduates and contributes to the attractiveness of general practice. The consistently excellent evaluations of the training program and the train-the-trainer course affirm the focus on the needs of the target groups. The post-graduate VWB plus BW program advances structured, competency-based and quality-oriented specialist training and fosters professional sharing between physicians - something that could also be relevant for other fields. The increasing numbers of participating physicians and specialists in general practice in Baden-Württemberg lead to the conclusion that the VWB plus BW program positively influences the number of general practitioners.
Project description:BACKGROUND:There is a large and unexplained variation in referral rates to specialists by general practitioners, which calls for investigations regarding general practitioners' perceptions and expectations during the referral process. Our objective was to describe the decision-making process underlying referral of patients to specialists by general practitioners working in a university outpatient primary care center. METHODS:Two focus groups were conducted among general practitioners (10 residents and 8 chief residents) working in the Center for Primary Care and Public Health (Unisanté) of the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland. Focus group data were analyzed with thematic content analysis. A feedback group of general practitioners validated the results. RESULTS:Participating general practitioners distinguished two kinds of situations regarding referral: a) "clear-cut situations", in which the decision to refer or not seems obvious and b) "complex cases", in which they hesitate to refer or not. Regarding the "complex cases", they reported various types of concerns: a) about the treatment, b) about the patient and the doctor-patient relationship and c) about themselves. General practitioners evoked numerous reasons for referring, including non-medical factors such as influencing patients' emotions, earning specialists' esteem or sharing responsibility. They also explained that they seek validation by colleagues and postpone referral so as to relieve some of the decision-related distress. CONCLUSIONS:General practitioners' referral of patients to specialists cannot be explained in biomedical terms only. It seems necessary to take into account the fact that referral is a sensitive topic for general practitioners, involving emotionally charged interactions and relationships with patients, colleagues, specialists and supervisors. The decision to refer or not is influenced by multiple contextual, personal and clinical factors that dynamically interact and shape the decision-making process.
Project description:This paper describes the results of the study on "Family-friendliness of the Medical Studies in Baden-Württemberg" carried out in 2009-2011 by the working group "Family, Time policy and E-Learning" of the University Hospital of Ulm, supported by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg. This state-wide survey of the studying conditions and personal circumstances of medical students with children at the five medical schools in Baden-Württemberg aims to describe existing and necessary factors of family-friendliness. A total of 238 students with children participated in the quantitative online survey conducted during the summer semester 2010 which was based on topics from previous qualitative interviews with student parents.The data shows that even though founding a family while at university is usually planned, student parents are faced with significant compatibility issues, demonstrating the need for additional measures to individualise course organisation and to make the curriculum more flexible. At the same time, the need to significantly increase information and advisory services alongside the establishment of additional support services for student parents is discernable. The study contributes to the debate on the family-friendliness of universities and university hospitals and adds practice-oriented approaches to solutions.
Project description:Student tutorials are now firmly anchored in medical education. However, to date there have only been isolated efforts to establish structured teacher training for peer tutors in medicine. To close this gap, a centralized tutor training program for students, culminating in an academic certificate, was implemented at Heidelberg University Medical School. The program also counts within the scope of the post-graduate Baden-Württemberg Certificate in Academic Teaching (Baden-Württemberg Zertifikat für Hochschuldidaktik).Based on a needs assessment, a modular program comprised of four modules and a total of 200 curricular units was developed in cooperation with the Department for Key Competencies and Higher Education at Heidelberg University and implemented during the 2010 summer semester. This program covers not only topic-specific training sessions, but also independent teaching and an integrated evaluation of the learning process that is communicated to the graduates in the form of structured feedback. In addition, to evaluate the overall concept, semi-structured interviews (N=18) were conducted with the program graduates.To date, 495 tutors have been trained in the basic module on teaching medicine, which is rated with a mean overall grade of 1.7 (SW: 0.6) and has served as Module I of the program since 2010. A total of 17% (N=83) of these tutors have gone on to enroll in the subsequent training modules of the program; 27 of them (m=12, f=15) have already successfully completed them. Based on qualitative analyses, it is evident that the training program certificate and its applicability toward the advanced teacher training for university instructors pose a major incentive for the graduates. For successful program realization, central coordination, extensive coordination within the medical school, and the evaluation of the attained skills have proven to be of particular importance.The training program contributes sustainably to both quality assurance and professionalism, as well as to solving the issue of resources in medical education. The introduction and continued development of similar programs is desirable.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Patients from rural and urban regions should have equitable access to health care. In Germany, the physician-patient-ratio and the supply of medical services vary greatly between urban and rural areas. The aim of our study was to explore the regional variations of the perceived health care problems in ambulatory care from the perspective of affected professionals and laypersons i.e. general practitioners and their patients. METHODS:We conducted 27 focus groups with general practitioners (n?=?65) and patients (n?=?145) from urban areas, environs and rural areas in northern Germany. Discussions were facilitated by two researchers using a semi-structured guideline. The transcripts were content analyzed using deductive and inductive categories. RESULTS:General practitioners and patients reported problems due to demographic change and patient behaviour, through structural inequalities and the ambulatory reimbursement system as well as with specialist care and inpatient care. A high physician density, associated with high competition between general practitioners, a high fluctuation of patients and a low status of general practitioners were the main problems reported in urban areas. In contrast, participants from rural areas reported an insufficient physician density, a lack of young recruits in primary care and a resulting increased workload as problematic. All regions are concerned with subjectively inadequate general practitioners' budgets, insufficiently compensated consultations and problems in the cooperation with specialists and inpatient care institutions. Most problems were mentioned by GPs and patients alike, but some (e.g. high competition rates in urban regions and problems with inpatient care) were only mentioned by GPs. CONCLUSIONS:While many problems arise in urban regions as well as in rural regions, our results support the notion that there is an urgent need for action in rural areas. Possible measures include the support of telemedicine, delegation of medical services and reoccupation of vacant practices. The attractiveness of working in rural areas for general practitioners, specialists and clinicians must be increased by consolidating and expanding rural infrastructure (e.g. child care and cultural life). The above mentioned results also indicate that the ambulatory reimbursement system should be examined regarding the reported inequalities. Measures to further enhance the cooperation between general practitioners, specialists and inpatient care should be taken to solve supra-regionally reported problems. Problems showing regional variations indicate the need for measures to balance these variations between the regions. This is the first German study to analyze subjective views of the stakeholders concerned on regionally variating problems in ambulatory care. Further studies are needed to quantify the extent of the identified problems and differences. A corresponding survey is currently under way.
Project description:Following the severe attacks by the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" on the Yazidi population, which started in summer 2014, the state government of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, funded a Special-Quota Project to bring 1,000 very ill or left-behind women and children who were being held hostage to 22 cities and towns in Baden-Württemberg to receive integrated care. Here, we report for the first time on the cases of four Yazidi women living in Ulm, Germany, focusing on the clinically observed and psychometrically assessed mental phenomena or disorders. Our primary aim was to explore what International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision diagnoses are present in this population. Although highly traumatized, these women were suffering primarily from adjustment disorder rather than posttraumatic stress disorder according to official classification systems. Despite their symptoms of depression and anxiety, the women's responses to self-assessment questionnaires provided no evidence of compulsion, somatization, or eating disorders. The results suggest that further investigation of the individual-level effects of rape and torture, as well the historic, systemic, and collective effects, e.g., on families and societies, is required.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: To examine the well-being differences among physicians working in different health care sectors and to test whether psychosocial stressors account for these differences. The well-being indicators used were psychological distress, self-rated health, and work ability. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: A total of 2,841 randomly selected Finnish physicians (response rate 57 percent) returned the postal questionnaire, of which 2,047 (1,241 women) fulfilled all the participant criteria. STUDY DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional questionnaire study. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: General practitioners and medical specialists experienced lower well-being than private physicians and this difference was partly explained by differences in psychosocial stressors. CONCLUSIONS: General practitioners and medical specialists report more problems in well-being than private physicians. It is of particular importance to be aware of the sector-specific difficulties in work environments.
Project description:BACKGROUND:There is increasing evidence that a history of preeclampsia is an important risk factor for future cardiovascular events. Awareness of this risk could provide opportunities for identification of women at risk, with opportunities for prevention and / or early intervention. A standardized follow-up has not yet been implemented in the north of the Netherlands. The objective of this qualitative study was to explore the opinions and wishes among women and physicians about the follow-up for women with a history of preeclampsia. METHODS:Semi-structured interviews with 15 women and 14 physicians (5 obstetricians, 4 general practitioners, 3 vascular medicine specialists and 2 cardiologists) were performed and addressed topics about knowledge on CVR, current - and future follow-up. Women were approached through the HELLP foundation and their physicians. Physicians were approached by email. The interviews were recorded, typed and coded using ATLAS.ti software. A theoretical-driven thematic analysis was performed. RESULTS:Women had some knowledge about the association between preeclampsia and the increased CVR, but missed information from their health care providers. Specialists were aware of the association, but the information and advice they provided to their patients was minimal and inconsistent according to themselves. Whereas some general practitioners regarded their own knowledge as limited. There was a clear desire among women for a more extensive follow-up with specific attention to both emotional and physical consequences of preeclampsia. Physicians indicated that they preferred to see a follow up program concerning the CVR at the general practitioner as part of the already existent cardiovascular risk management (CVRM) program. CONCLUSION:Women and medical specialists consider it important to improve aftercare for women after a pregnancy complicated by preeclampsia. Introducing these women into the CVRM program at the general practitioner is regarded as a preferred first step. Further research is warranted to establish an evidence-based guideline for the follow-up of these women.
Project description:The feminization of the medical profession, demographic change with an impending shortage of physicians, Generation Y - these issues are new challenges for medical schools in terms of their social responsibility and the training of the next generation of highly qualified scientists. This study, conducted by the University Hospital of Ulm throughout Baden-Württemberg via an online survey provides a valuable data basis which can be used to optimise support activities. A disproportionately high percentage of students with children in Tübingen must, as an additional challenge, cope with a lower than average monthly income. Students with children need organisational support in this doubly challenging situation. The Dean's Office can provide valuable assistance as an advocate (contact with the departments/institutions), provide organisational help (course guidance, individual support) and infrastructure (childcare/changing rooms, etc.). In Tübingen, high intrinsic motivation (willingness to engage in self-managed care networks) is also found amongst students, something that needs to be integrated into the development of the existing support networks.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Socially disadvantaged people have an increased need for medical care due to a higher burden of health problems and chronic diseases. In Germany, outpatient care is chiefly provided by office-based general practitioners and specialists in private practice. People are free to choose the physician they prefer. In this study, national data were used to examine differences in the use of outpatient medical care by socioeconomic status (SES). METHODS:The analyses were based on data from 6,754 participants in the Robert Koch Institute's German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults (DEGS1) aged between 18 and 69 years. The number of outpatient physician visits during the past twelve months was assessed for several medical specializations. SES was determined based on education, occupation, and income. Associations between SES and physician visits were analysed using logistic regression and zero-truncated negative binomial regression for count data. RESULTS:After adjusting for sociodemographic factors and health indicators, outpatients with low SES had more contacts with general practitioners than outpatients with high SES (men: incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.25; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08-1.46; women: IRR = 1.20; 95% CI = 1.07-1.34). The use of specialists was lower in people with low SES than in those with high SES when sociodemographic factors and health indicators were adjusted for (men: odds ratio [OR] = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.51-0.91; women: OR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.41-0.77). This applied particularly to specialists in internal medicine, dermatology, and gynaecology. The associations remained after additional adjustment for the type of health insurance and the regional density of office-based physicians. CONCLUSION:The findings suggest that socially disadvantaged people are seen by general practitioners more often than the socially better-off, who are more likely to visit a medical specialist. These differences may be due to differences in patient preferences, physician factors, physician-patient interaction, and potential barriers to accessing specialist care.