- Helios Germany is increasing number of intensive care beds by two thirds
- Law to ease financial burden on hospitals likely to offset large part of sales losses and cost increases
- Digital healthcare offerings facilitate continuous medical care for chronically ill and rehabilitation patients
Helios Germany, Germany’s largest private hospital operator and part of the Fresenius Group, is undertaking comprehensive measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with the German government’s request, surgical procedures are being delayed whenever medically justifiable. The freed-up capacity is reserved for the imminent treatment of COVID-19 patients. Postponed operations should be performed later this year and next. In parallel, Helios Germany will increase the number of ICU beds in its network by two-thirds, from 900 to more than 1,500. This will be accomplished by deploying centrally held equipment reserves across its network as well as by selectively upgrading intermediate care beds and converting operation theatres with already installed ventilator systems.
In order to utilize the incremental capacity most effectively, Helios Germany has selectively adjusted shift models and is prepared to deploy specialist staff across its network to hospitals with particular needs.
Helios Germany is closely monitoring its inventories of important hospital supplies – including disinfectants and protective clothing – and building additional reserves.
Stephan Sturm, CEO of Fresenius, said: “Society is facing very challenging weeks and months ahead. Commitment, sound judgement and close cooperation will all be needed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, the best possible care must be provided to patients. Our deepest thanks go to doctors, nurses and care personnel, whether they work at Fresenius or elsewhere: They are needed more than ever, and show tremendous dedication day after day. As a healthcare Group we have a special responsibility in this situation. We must, and we will, meet this responsibility.”
To ease the financial burden on the country’s hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health submitted earlier this week a draft law, which was passed by the Bundestag on Wednesday. Among its key provisions:
- Compensation payment of €560 per foregone treatment day compared to 2019.
- Reimbursement of care costs with a flat-rate payment of at least €185 per treatment day.
- Reimbursement of increased costs for protective clothing and other supplies with a flat-rate payment of €50 per patient.
- Public health insurers will settle all treatment invoices in 2020 within five days.
- Significant reduction of health insurers’ (MDK) audit quota and abolition of minimum fines for this year and 2021.
- Co-investment of €50,000 for each new intensive care bed; costs above this amount may be reimbursed by individual state governments.
Fresenius Helios generally welcomes these measures. Assuming the pandemic substantially subsides by the summer, management currently estimates that the financial impact on Helios Germany in 2020, although negative, will not be very significant.
Dr. Francesco De Meo, CEO of Fresenius Helios, said: “It is our approach to combine ethically responsible care for our patients with a high degree of efficiency. To this end, we have invested heavily in our clinics, in our medical technology and also in strengthening our staff in recent years. This is paying off now. The close networking of our hospitals gives us the necessary flexibility to deploy personnel and materials exactly where patients need them most. And we gain insights very swiftly by sharing experiences with our colleagues, through the European exchange that is embedded in Fresenius‘ global network. We are therefore ideally positioned in the joint fight against COVID-19.”
Fresenius is committed to the care of patients with a high infection risk. Given the current treatment restrictions and infection risks, there are significant challenges for the chronically ill to visit local medical practices and get the treatment and support they need. Particularly for these patients, digital healthcare offerings can be a suitable alternative. Following its acquisition of Digitale Gesundheitsgruppe, Fresenius’ subsidiary Curalie now offers an even wider range of digital healthcare services for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease, through to rehabilitation patients in orthopedic aftercare. For the duration of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Curalie will make its digital healthcare services available free of charge. Thus, Fresenius and Curalie are helping to ensure continuous medical care to these vulnerable patients.