The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina has issued a fourth ad-hoc-statement on the coronavirus pandemic. It is dedicated to the topic: "Medical Care and Patient-Oriented Research in an Adaptive Healthcare System". The paper focuses on short- and medium-term aspects of medical and care services under the conditions of a sustained pandemic and identifies long-term measures that lead to a more resilient and adaptive healthcare system. The authors recommend a needs-based system focusing on patient well-being and quality assurance, rather than a primarily profit-oriented approach. It should appreciate all employees and integrate innovations as well as digital solutions. The aim is an adaptive healthcare system where the public health service and the ambulatory and stationary sectors work together well, and research results are promptly integrated into clinical practice.
In the past weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has posed extraordinary challenges to the German healthcare system. According to the ad-hoc-statement, the confrontation with a new viral disease has shown the great importance of a publicly funded healthcare system and of an interconnected and research-based healthcare. Due to precautionary measures against infection with the largely unknown SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the rearrangement of the system to be able to handle a potentially large number of severely ill COVID-19 patients, ambulatory and stationary care for patients with other illnesses has, however, faded into the background. Even important preventive measures and research activities had to be interrupted. Now, needs-based preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic measures for all patients need to be resumed promptly and, whenever possible, to their full extent.
The authors consider the following short- and medium-term framework conditions necessary to ensure healthcare for all patients in times of an ongoing pandemic threat:
It is the responsibility of the state to ensure healthcare in times of crisis and a quality-assured and science-based medical treatment for the population. The working group of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina recommends taking the following general aspects into account for the long-term development of the healthcare system:
With this statement, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina publishes the fourth ad-hoc-statement on the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. The first three statements focused on acute healthcare policy measures in dealing with the pandemic, and on psychological, social, legal, educational, and economic measures that may contribute to a gradual return to societal normality. The corresponding documents can be downloaded here.
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About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
As the German National Academy of Sciences, the Leopoldina provides independent science-based policy advice on matters relevant to society. To this end, the Academy develops interdisciplinary statements based on scientific findings. In these publications, options for action are outlined; making decisions, however, is the responsibility of democratically legitimized politicians. The experts who prepare the statements work in a voluntary and unbiased manner. The Leopoldina represents the German scientific community in the international academy dialogue. This includes advising the annual summits of Heads of State and Government of the G7 and G20 countries. With 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, the Leopoldina combines expertise from almost all research areas. Founded in 1652, it was appointed the National Academy of Sciences of Germany in 2008. The Leopoldina is committed to the common good.
Dr. Kathrin Happe
Scientific Officer, Deputy Head of the Department Science - Policy - Society
Dr. Stefanie Westermann
Scientific Officer, Department Science - Policy - Society