press information / news

Health Economics
29.03.2017

German Federal Government Promotes Health Care Research

Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München have been awarded approximately 1.4 million euros in funding for projects in health care research. Within the framework of the Innovation Fund*, the scientists are investigating the care situation in cases of lung diseases and mental disorders. In addition, they are conducting research on the topic of mobility in old age in a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Innovation Fund

Source: BMG/Pauls

In order to shape health care in Germany so that it is viable in the future, the Federal Government has launched the Innovation Fund. Each year from 2016 to 2019, it will award 300 million euros in two parts: 225 million euros flow into the funding of new forms of care such as the expansion of telemedicine. The other 75 million euros are earmarked for projects in health care research.

Scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München led by Professor Reiner Leidl are involved in two projects. The director of the Institute for Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) and his team have been awarded approximately 1.1 million euros from the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA).

The first project focuses on the care of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It goes back to preliminary work at the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) and is intended to elucidate the quality of life of the affected persons in structured treatment programs, so-called disease management programs (DMPs). “Health-related quality of life is a key target figure of the DMPs,” said project leader Leidl. “However, so far data on this have only been collected in some smaller samples, and its relationship to how cases of health care develop has hardly been elucidated. Our research project, using the example of the DMP COPD, examines the extent to which this treatment program can be improved by measuring and taking into account the health-related quality of life of those affected as care objective.”**

In the event of success, the findings allow conclusions as to which measures and behaviors have a lasting effect on the health-related quality of life of people with COPD, and may indicate in which groups of DMP participants starting points for a further improvement in care can be identified. The concept of disease management which is based on the health-related quality of life of those affected could in principle be applied to other treatment programs, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or asthma, according to the researchers. The second project funded by the Innovation Fund aims to provide care for children and adolescents with psychological problems. In doing so, IGM researchers shall investigate the effects of standardized treatment procedures on care, in particular with regard to their costs.

In addition to the Innovation Fund projects, the scientists will conduct research on the mobility of elderly people with hip or knee replacements in a project funded by the BMBF. Prior to a possible intervention, the health-related quality of life of the patients shall be measured and incorporated into the shared decision with the doctor about the further treatment. Around 300,000 euros shall be granted to the IGM for this purpose.

In all three projects, the Helmholtz researchers cooperate closely with actual practice, in particular with the AOK Bavaria, the contract work group of company health insurance funds and various clinics. The second and third projects are headed by Professor Eva Grill, Medical Faculty of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU). Leidl, in addition to his work at Helmholtz Zentrum München, also coordinates the Munich Center for Health Sciences (MC-Health) at LMU. Scientists from this institution have successfully applied for Innovation Fund projects: "The members of MC-Health were able to acquire eight project leaderships or participations from the Innovation Fund. This is a great signal for Munich as a location for health sciences and shows that we are playing in the first league."

Further Information

* The Innovation Fund is a health policy instrument for the promotion of integrated care and health care research in Germany. Integrated care is the idea of a new "cross-sectoral" healthcare provision. It promotes greater networking between the different disciplines and sectors (general practitioners, specialists, hospitals) in order to improve the quality of patient care while reducing health costs.

** For this purpose, the scientists will assess the quality of life of the DMP participants of the AOK Bavaria and examine how this is influenced by the care measures and the self-management of those affected. Other factors such as age or comorbidities are also considered. The care data are collected through claims data of the health insurance company and other documentation under the DMP. In addition, the scientists are investigating whether the quality of life could be regularly determined within the framework of treatment programs of the statutory health insurance and how important the project results are for the practice of health care from the perspective of doctors and health insurance funds. The project is funded with a total of 786,980 euros for three years.


The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich and has about 2,300 staff members. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.

The Institute of Health Economics and Health Care Management (IGM) examines approaches to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of health care. The health care system faces the challenge of delivering high-quality, economically viable medical services to meet the needs of the population. Rapid advances in medical technology and fast-changing demographics further aggravate this problem. A firmly based evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of health care structures and processes is therefore an essential prerequisite for a rational health care policy.