TK sets standards (4/4)
Medical innovations will be one of the drivers of value creation in the coming decades. TK is doing its part to establish Germany as an innovation hub for health.
TK has always pursued the goal of ensuring a high level of quality and efficiency in health care. This is also – and especially – true in times of change. The TK "Modellvorhaben Akupunktur" [acupuncture pilot project], for example, and various telemedicine projects show that TK is right in the competition to achieve the better solution.
TK was accustomed to the challenges posed by this freedom of choice. The aim was to improve the efficiency and performance of the health insurance fund, keep the quality of benefits and services at the highest level and keep the contribution rate low. With this approach, TK had already evolved into a strong health insurance fund in the past. Ever since persons covered by statutory health insurance have been able to choose their preferred health insurance fund, TK has grown enormously and is one of the largest health insurance funds in Germany.
Despite all these structural changes imposed by the legislators, TK also succeeded in advancing its own innovations. In an effort to reduce the costs of treating insurees without compromising quality, TK supported initiatives to create networks of registered practicing physicians. The "Praxisnetz Berlin" and the "Medizinische Qualitätsnetz München" physician networks were founded in the late 1990s. Their goal was to improve the treatment of patients through close cooperation, particularly to benefit chronically ill patients. Although the committed project ended in 2001, it demonstrates that TK is always looking for new ways to improve the care of its members.
The "Modellvorhaben Akupunktur" [TK acupuncture pilot project] – a complete success
It was a study of superlatives: more than 360,000 patients participated. Approx.13,000 doctors positioned well over 20 million acupuncture needles in four and a half years. More than three million acupuncture treatments were evaluated by the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics of the Charité university hospital in Berlin. In the end, the researchers from Charité came to the following conclusion: Acupuncture works, is safe, and increases the quality of life over the long-term.
The effectiveness of acupuncture was proven for a total of seven diagnoses: Nine out of ten allergy sufferers felt significantly better six months after treatment and three quarters of patients with headaches and lower back pain felt better after the same period of time. Furthermore, the positive effects still continued after six months in over 80 per cent of the patients who suffered from osteoarthritis, asthma or menstrual pain. The study also substantiated the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture: although acupuncture treatment resulted in higher costs, the cost-benefit ratio was commensurate with that of recognised medical procedures.