Background and purpose: In 2004, German statutory health care funds were given the possibility to offer their insured a special general practitioner-( GP-)centered health care contract (HZV), since 2007 they are obliged to do so. The aim of these contracts is to strengthen the role of the GP as a coordinator in the health care system. Until now, the evidence regarding the GPs' view on these contracts is poor. A written survey was conducted in Hesse in order to learn how the participating GPs evaluate the regional HZV.
Methods: In Apri 2008, a questionnaire was developed, tested and mailed to 2,815 GPs who were participating in the GP-centered health care contract at that time. All analyses where conducted with SPSS (version 15.0).
Results: A total of 686 questionnaires were returned (response rate 24.4%). Altogether, the GPs' feedback ranged from great approval to clear disapproval of the contract. However, 70.0% of the survey's participants evaluated the HZV in general to be positive, 60.1% felt it strengthens their role as a GP. Quality circles on good prescribing and GP-specific education, obligatory parts of the HZV, were evaluated to be especially positive (70.3% and 69.4%, respectively). Positive effects were also seen concerning coordination of care (53.3%) and cooperation with patients (36.3%). Improvements concerning cooperation with specialists and hospitals were reported less often (24.9% and 13.0%, respectively). Workload because of additional administration for the HZV was criticized.
Conclusion: In future, special GP-centered health care contracts should focus on improvement of cooperation between GPs and other caregivers. Workload for additional administration should be reduced.