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08. April 2011, Koblenz

Shortage of physicians: urgent action is required, but with a different approach!

Survey: Few German physicians consider the planned healthcare act by Minister Rösler to be suitable for counteracting the current shortage of physicians.

Koblenz, April 08, 2011: The decline in the number of physicians in Germany could take on insufficient dimensions. According to statistics, by the year 2020, the number of primary physicians may have declined by 7000. One out of two physicians (46.8%) is already noticing a shortage of physicians; one fourth (26.8%) expects a shortage in the future. More than half of those surveyed (50.5%) complains about the resulting long wait times for their patients. Regarding the measures taken by the Federal Government, most physicians agree: 90.5% consider the current strategy to be the wrong approach. That’s the result of a current survey conducted by the CGM-GesundheitsMONITOR.

There are already not enough physicians
The situation medical associations have long warned about has apparently arrived: the medical profession is becoming increasingly less attractive in Germany, and many young physicians emigrate abroad. When private practice physicians retire, there is often no replacement for them. This trend has meanwhile escalated to a point where there are shortages in medical care - especially in rural areas, but they also occur in many hospitals.

According to a study conducted by the Bundesärztekammer (German Medical Association) and the Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung KBV (Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians) in the fall of 2010, there will be a shortage of approximately 7000 primary physicians by 2020. In addition, there are already about 5000 vacancies in hospitals at this time. Of the physicians surveyed, 46.8% confirm that this development has already resulted in a shortage of physicians. One fourth of the physicians (26.8%) doesn’t yet experience this situation, but expects it in the near future and 26.4% are under the impression that there is no shortage of physicians.

Trend toward waiting lists for medical treatment
The shortage of physicians has concrete consequences for the daily routine in the medical practice. The patients in particular will be bearing the brunt of the consequences. That is emphasized by physicians who are already seeing deficits in medical care: one out of two physicians (50.5%) complains that patients have to wait too long to see a specialist - delays that make an effective treatment more difficult. One third of surveyed physicians (33%) are acutely aware that there are not enough physicians in their area of specialization and reports that their waiting room is overflowing. Merely 16.5% of physicians cannot yet confirm this situation and state that neither patients nor physicians are suffering from a shortage of physicians.

Better pay, especially in rural areas
The causes for this negative trend as well as counteractive measures are currently discussed by medical associations, representatives of the statutory health insurance funds and politicians. Fact is that the current situation in Germany is perceived as unsatisfactory by most physicians. One of the problems is the uneven distribution of medical practices: the rural areas in particular are underserved.

Half of the physicians surveyed (47.7%) feel that action is required for this and demand an improvement of the working conditions in rural areas. One out of three physicians (34.5%) is of the opinion that the problem with a “shortage of physicians” could be resolved through better pay. This is a distinct criticism that directed at the budget, which is perceived as unjust, as well as the rigid pay based on a point system. One out of ten physicians (11.8) is also of the opinion that the pay needs to be adjusted so that rural physicians no longer receive less pay than their “city colleagues.”

The Healthcare Act is not sufficient
In order to counteract the shortage of physicians in rural areas, the FDP Health Minister, Philipp Rösler, is currently working on a Healthcare Act, with the goal of making medical care more flexible and smaller in scale, with cross-sector planning and closer linkage of outpatient and inpatient care. This healthcare act will take effect on January 01, 2012, but almost all of the physicians surveyed consider it to be insufficient. Only 2.7% feel that it makes sense to dismantle the rigid division of inpatient and outpatient care. However, nine out of 10 physicians surveyed (90.5%) emphasize that the planned new legislation will not be the right strategy to combat the shortage of physicians.

About CompuGroup Medical AG
CompuGroup Medical is one of the leading eHealth companies in the world. Its software products are designed to support all medical and organizational activities in doctors’ offices and hospitals. Its information services for all parties involved in the healthcare system and its web-based personal health records contribute towards safer and more efficient healthcare. CompuGroup Medical’s services are based on a unique customer base of over 380,000 doctors, dentists, hospitals and networks as well as other service providers. CompuGroup Medical is the eHealth company with one of the highest coverage among eHealth service providers worldwide. Approximately 3300 highly qualified employees in 25 countries support customers with innovative solutions for the steadily growing demands of the healthcare system.

The CGM GesundheitsMONITOR:
The CGM GesundheitsMONITOR is a joint initiative of CompuGroup Medical, the Medical Tribune and the Rhein-Zeitung. They perform representative monthly surveys of 440 general practitioners with regard to current issues in the healthcare system. You can download free printable graphs and find publications as well as information about the representative survey at .

About Medical Tribune:
For over 40 years, the Medical Tribune has been one of the most widely read publications for private practice physicians. The popular weekly newspaper offers an attractive mix of medicine, health and professional policies relevant to private practice, and economic issues that apply to the medical profession. In a unique style, the Medical Tribune provides multifaceted continued education, personal advice, and interesting reading material within a newspaper. The Medical Tribune’s success story has been documented by the independent readership review (LA-MED) for decades.

About Rhein-Zeitung:
The Rhein-Zeitung area of circulation connects the metropolitan areas Köln-Bonn and the Rhein-Main region. The economically strong region around Koblenz is located in the center. With a circulation of right of 224,000 copies and 17 local issues, the Rhein-Zeitung has approximately 640,000 readers.

Contact for media representatives:
CompuGroup Medical AG
Barbara Müller

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