Germany’s long-established way of providing healthcare has created an environment that many people are comfortable with. Patients have trust in the system, and insurers and HCPs find it easy to stay afloat financially. Against this backdrop, it’s easy to think that the everything is working just fine, but in fact no-one is incentivized to take a more long-term view.
None of the traditional players have anything to gain by changing the system. Consumers don’t change insurer or general practitioner frequently, and there is a widespread view that no matter what doctor or hospital you visit, the standard of service you receive will be the same. As a result, there is little financial or popular pressure on governments, insurers or HCPs to consider a more competition-friendly view.
But we do need to take that long-term view into account: as the median age of the German population edges upwards, it’s a question of when, not if, the demographic pressures become too much for the current system to bear.
There is cause for optimism, though. The healthcare technology sector itself is very strong in Germany and AI is a big topic at the moment. People are talking about how it can change the way doctors work, and there are lots of different pilot projects going on to test these new technologies and ensure we keep learning. What we need now is to capitalize on this early progress and move beyond piecemeal innovation towards something more planned and wide-ranging.