Background: Health services research
Health services research makes a significant contribution to our understanding of factors improving or exacerbating the health status of people. One aspect of health services research looks at small-area variations in health care. Thereby, we can identify inequities in the provision and utilization of care. Secondly, by comparing regions, we can also draw conclusions on the impact of different input factors, such as care densities, environmental aspects, and social deprivation, on health.
As of today, the analysis of small-area variations in health is still in its infancy in Germany. One reason for that is a current lack of available data.
New data source for health services research in Germany
However, a very promising new data source could be available starting next year: Fom mid-2013 on, a dataset containing (anonymous) information on demographics, diagnoses and drug prescriptions of all Germans with statutory health insurance will become available for research and planning purposes. This dataset is compiled annually already for the calculation of the risk structure equalization scheme – yet, as of next year, research institutions, physician associations, sickness funds, and several other institutions may apply for a use of that data.
Objective of the petition
However, there is a pitfall to that: This dataset will not contain any regional information. Thus the location of residence of each insured will not be part of the dataset – even though this information lies with every sickness funds and could be easily included. A lack of this information will significantly lower the value of this dataset: Research about regional differences in care utilization, the influence of structural variables, such as physician densities and social deprivation, on health care quantities and quality and the appropriateness of locally available care resources will not be possible.
Therefore, our petition appeals to the German Bundestag to include regional information in the new dataset created by the data transparency regulations. The time span for signing the petition has elapsed as of 3 December, 2012. Therefore, it is now up to the Bundestag to consult and act on the matter.
You may read the petition here (in German only) >>