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Hospital outcomes research in Germany - Results from a retrospective survey among sickness fund beneficiaries

Bitzer EM, Dörning H, Busse R, Schwartz FW

Med Care 35(10): OS112-OS122





OBJECTIVES: The authors assess the feasibility of using retrospective, indication-specific patient surveys to conduct hospital outcomes research in Germany. Surgical outcome and patient satisfaction were examined in patients who underwent common elective surgical procedures. METHODS: Using the International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision coding available in the Schwäbisch Gmünd health insurance data base, all patients for a defined period of time with one of the three following diagnoses were selected and questioned retrospectively using an indication-specific survey instrument: (1) varicose veins of the lower extremity; (2) nasal septum deviation; and (3) inner knee joint damage limited to patients undergoing arthroscopic meniscus repair. Survey content focused on preoperative conditions, pre- and postoperative symptoms, postoperative complications, the nature and duration of postoperative follow-up, and satisfaction with surgical outcome. RESULTS: Significant postoperative improvement of preoperative symptoms was found for all three groups. Complete freedom from symptoms was found in 29.7% of patients treated for varicose veins, 24.1% of patients with meniscus repair, and in only 10.6% of patients with nasal septum deviation. Multivariate analyses indicated that postoperative impairment was the decisive variable governing patient satisfaction for all three groups. CONCLUSIONS: The use of retrospective, indication-specific patient surveys constitutes a time-efficient, cost-effective, and patient-focused option for the systematic acquisition and evaluation of health outcomes in Germany. This methodology holds promise for international and domestic efforts to demonstrate the consequences of restructuring activities in the inpatient sector.

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