Over the last ten years changes in the legal framework of the German health care system have promoted the development of new health service models to improve chronic care. Recent innovations include the nation-wide introduction of disease management programmes (DMPs), integrated care contracts, community nurse programmes, the introduction of General Practitioner (GP)-centred care contracts, and new opportunities to offer interdisciplinary outpatient care in polyclinics. The aim of this article is to describe the recent developments regarding both the implementation of new health care models by statutory health insurance companies and their evaluation. As part of a European project on the development and validation of disease management evaluation methods (DISMEVAL), we carried out a selective literature search to identify relevant models and evaluation studies. However, on the basis of the currently available evaluation and study results it is difficult to judge whether these developments have actually led to an improvement in the quality of chronic care in Germany. Only for DMPs, evaluation is legally mandatory; its methods are inappropriate, though, for studying the effectiveness of DMPs. Further study results on the effectiveness of DMPs mostly focus on the DMP Diabetes mellitus type II and show consistent improvements regarding process parameters such as regular routine examinations, adherence to treatment guidelines, and quality of life. More research will be needed to determine whether DMPs can also help reduce the incidence of secondary disease and mortality in the long term.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier GmbH.