One project that was of special interest for European university hospitals, was the cooperation between University Hospital Aachen and the University Medical Center Maastricht.
The establishment of a first European University Hospital as a joint venture between the University Hospital Aachen (UKA) and the University Medical Centre Maastricht (Maastricht UMC+) is legally and financially viable. In addition, further developing the existing partnership in this direction will serve to enhance quality and the international competitiveness of both institutions in terms of patient care, research and teaching. This was highlighted by a feasibility study produced by the consulting firm KPMG and commissioned by the two university hospitals over the last few months.
Over several hundred pages, the consultants pay detailed attention to healthcare trends on both sides of the border, analyse the position of both institutions in their respective markets and examine ways of intensifying a partnership that has existed for several years. The study recommends even greater pooling of resources and developing existing strengths on both sides, for example in the field of cardiovascular diseases, as joint treatment and research specialisms. It will be necessary to achieve this in a context of increasing cost pressure on both sides of the Dutch-German border and the necessity of providing high performance medicine and top-level research while taking account of efficiency criteria in order to safeguard future success. “We are working towards a decisive strategic approach to the development of the hospital, research and joint overall corporate responsibility. In terms of a forward vision, this means joint management at board level, together with a joint IT, controlling and invoicing platform,” explained Prof. Henning Saß, chairman of the Aachen hospital.
From the patient’s point of view, it is important that the regional care facilities in both Maastricht and Aachen remain unaffected. No one should have to worry about having to travel long distances for standard treatments in the future because of this partnership. Moreover, patients will benefit from the partnership, for example through the sharing of expertise between medical practitioners from both sides of the border. There are also plans to set up an oncology network in order to further improve treatment for cancer patients.
The intention is to establish a European centre of excellence focusing on specific, highly specialised fields, in which both the UMC and the UKA already have outstanding expertise. It is planned that these core services will be available at a third location, right on the border between Germany and the Netherlands, where the Avantis Technology Park is situated (approx. 5 kilometres from Aachen and about 25 km from Maastricht). This is the planned location for a cardiovascular centre and particle therapy centre aimed at innovative radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients.
“By means of a joint cardiovascular centre of excellence, UMC and UKA will be in a position to combine forces and enhance their profile on the national and international markets”, stresses Guy Peeters, chairman of the University Medical Centre Maastricht. “We are assuming that a centre of this kind will also be highly attractive for international patients and researchers.” A joint paediatric heart centre could become an integral part of this cardiovascular centre. Until now only Aachen has had a department of paediatric cardiac surgery and the paediatric cardiologists in Aachen and Maastricht are assigned to different specialist hospitals. Both boards wish to develop a joint infrastructure with joint medical equipment for health care provision.
The supervisory boards of both institutions have instructed the boards to further develop the partnership between the two university hospitals by the beginning of 2009 based on the recommendations of the feasibility study.
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