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Fragmentation in health systems leads to discontinuities in the provision of health services, reduces the effectiveness of interventions, and increases costs. In international comparisons, Germany is notably lagging in the context of healthcare (data) integration. Despite various political efforts spanning decades, intersectoral care and integrated health data remain controversial and are still in an embryonic phase in the country. Even more than 2 years after its launch, electronic health record (elektronische Patientenakte; ePA) users in Germany constitute only 1 per cent of the statutorily insured population, and ongoing political debates suggest that the path to broader coverage is fraught with complexities. By exploring the main stakeholders in the existing (fragmented) health system governance in Germany and their sectoral interests, this paper examines the implementation of ePA through the lens of corporatism, offering insights based on an institutional decision theory. The central point is that endeavours to better integrate health data for clinical care, scientific research and evidence-informed policymaking in Germany will need to address the roles of corporatism and self-governance.
This systematic literature review aimed to provide an overview of the characteristics and methods used in studies applying the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) concept for infectious diseases within European Union (EU)/European Economic Area (EEA)/European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and the United Kingdom. Electronic databases and grey literature were searched for articles reporting the assessment of DALY and its components. We considered studies in which researchers performed DALY calculations using primary epidemiological data input sources. We screened 3053 studies of which 2948 were excluded and 105 studies met our inclusion criteria. Of these studies, 22 were multi-country and 83 were single-country studies, of which 46 were from the Netherlands. Food- and water-borne diseases were the most frequently studied infectious diseases. Between 2015 and 2022, the number of burden of infectious disease studies was 1.6 times higher compared to that published between 2000 and 2014. Almost all studies (97%) estimated DALYs based on the incidence- and pathogen-based approach and without social weighting functions; however, there was less methodological consensus with regards to the disability weights and life tables that were applied. The number of burden of infectious disease studies undertaken across Europe has increased over time. Development and use of guidelines will promote performing burden of infectious disease studies and facilitate comparability of the results.
Health system governance has been receiving increasing attention in health system research since the 1980s. The contemporary challenges that the German health system is faced with are often closely linked to governance issues. Although Germany has the highest health expenditure as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the European Union (EU), the spending on healthcare is out of proportion to the health outcomes of the population. The reason for this lies mainly in the complexity of the German health system which is hard to steer due to several administrative levels in the country and numerous policy actors to whom the decision-making power on healthcare provision is delegated. In this paper, we present the results of focus group discussions on governance and build upon the insights gained through the Neustart project of the Robert Bosch Foundation. Based on an internationally recognised health governance framework from the World Health Organization (WHO), experts who work in, on or for the German health system addressed health governance challenges. They provided evidence-based recommendations for the new legislative period (2021-2025) on transparency, accountability, participation, integrity and capacity of the German health system.
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