BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - In future, a state-run comparison portal will also provide information on the services and treatment quality of hospitals in Germany. To this end, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is presenting a new "Federal Hospital Atlas" this Friday. Patients will be able to find easy-to-understand information about hospitals in their area. Data on case numbers, i.e. treatment experience, specialists and nursing staff as well as complication rates for selected procedures will be available for 1700 locations throughout Germany.

The German Hospital Federation (DKG) criticized the portal as misleading and superfluous. "There is no area in the healthcare sector that is as transparent in terms of quality as hospitals," DKG head Gerald Gaß told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND/Friday). For over two decades, information on staff, case numbers, quality data and complication rates has been available online in the German Hospital Directory. The new atlas does not provide any new insights, but causes more effort and bureaucracy for hospitals.

The German Patient Protection Foundation explained that people certainly want to know about the range of services and quality. "But the hospital atlas lacks crucial information," said Eugen Brysch, Chairman of the German Press Agency. "The quality of patient management in the clinic is not recorded." There is still a lack of binding guidelines and assessment factors that take into account work on and with patients.

Brysch also pointed out that older people are hospitalized much more frequently and that elderly patients with multiple illnesses need more time for successful treatment. "The complication rate for this patient group is always higher than average."

The hospital atlas is intended to complement a major reform with fundamental changes to funding and uniform quality standards, which the cabinet has initiated. Clinics must report additional data for the transparency directory, as stipulated in a law passed for this purpose. The hospital sector recently expanded its own online overview. The "German Hospital Directory", which has existed since 2002, now offers more search functions.

Lauterbach has repeatedly emphasized that he believes more transparency is urgently needed. For example, one third of cancer patients are not treated where optimal results could be expected. The new atlas should also enable targeted comparisons between services in a region, according to the ministry. This should help patients, but also their doctors, when deciding on a clinic. The data is processed by the Institute for Quality and Transparency in Healthcare. It is part of the Joint Federal Committee of doctors, clinics and health insurance companies./sam/DP/zb