Germany has too many hospitals. In fact, a study from 2019 reveals that about half of Germany’s hospitals are superfluous. Many of the financial problems associated with the German health care system could be relieved by resorting to fewer, more specialized, hospitals in better locations. Working conditions and patient treatment could also potentially benefit from the move. This might seem as an outlandish thesis at first, but reality proves different.
David-Ruben Thies is the CEO of Waldkliniken Eisenberg, a county hospital in the province of Thuringia, former GDR. The hospital, which can accommodate up to 250 patients and has enjoyed a good reputation in the past, is by now rarely at full capacity. To justify its continued existence, some truly radical steps would have to be taken, so DAVID set out to do just that.
He looked at hospitals worldwide, studied every detail and came up with a plan for a new hospital ward: the German Centre for Orthopaedics. The ward is designed as a comfortable patient hotel, where organic food is served and where everyone is treated as a guest, regardless of the type of health insurance they have. A place where innovative care concepts are combined with attention to privacy, safety and improved working conditions for the staff. It’s an ambitious plan, but David is a pioneer, one who wants to set standards.
Though not everyone shares his ambitions. The way to the hospital of the future is rife with obstacles: Decision makers, colleagues, doctors and political circumstances get in the way. His staff claims he drives them crazy and we watch David being stretched to his absolute limits. However, there is one obstacle nobody has anticipated: In 2020, David’s crusade is cut short by a worldwide pandemic.
The opening of the new ward is postponed, the planned party with Angela Merkel is canceled. Instead, short-time work is introduced together with the looming threat of bankruptcy. Whether David will reach his goal or fail halfway through isn‘t clear yet, but one thing is certain: Modern medicine is a tough business with which one can earn good money and rarely can we say for sure who is on the “right side”…