European Union of Private Hospitals

Private clinics innovate during Corona

MAY 2020 – New service schedules, establishment of infection wards, procurement of protective equipment – the clinics have adapted to the coronavirus at lightning speed and in a variety of ways. In the process, they have developed various particularly creative ideas.

The list seems endless: capacity expansions, procurement of respiratory equipment, fever measuring stations, telephone hotlines, staff training. In an unprecedented effort, the clinics throughout Germany have countered the consequences of the corona virus and developed and implemented a variety of measures under high pressure. The daily routine was turned upside down from one day to the next. Despite the enormous burdens, some clinics have even managed to develop special therapeutic and practical offers for dealing with Corona and its consequences. Here are some examples from the clinics in private ownership:

Online to the doctor 
The Helios clinics set up a video consultation at the beginning of April to secure outpatient treatment options during the corona pandemic. The offer can be used by patients regardless of their place of residence or state of health. One of the places where it was launched was the Helios Klinikum in Berlin-Buch, where patients can reach a team of 70 specialists via video consultation. All you need for the consultation is a device with a front camera, display and connection to the Internet, as well as a health insurance card or identity card with private health insurance. Prescriptions and sick notes, which are issued during the video consultation, then reach the patients by post. Unnecessary journeys and especially waiting times for check-ups can be avoided. The video consultation is a great relief especially for the oncological center of the clinic. Immuno-weak patients can be better protected against infection, but still receive the necessary care and treatment.

Digital home visit
It is not a substitute for rehabilitation, but it is a valuable aid for all patients who were unable to start their rehabilitation or had to stop it early due to the corona pandemic: The digital “Dr. Becker home visit” has been coming to the house six days a week since the beginning of April, completely in line with the rhythm of inpatient rehab. In the form of a patient newsletter, the Dr. Becker clinic group sends out impulses on sports exercises, mindfulness training, relaxation techniques or healthy nutrition. The concentrated knowledge comes from all indication areas that the clinic group offers: psychosomatics, neurology, orthopaedics as well as cardio- and psychocardiology. The focus is on psychosomatic content. Originally, the digital home visit was only designed for patients of the Dr. Becker clinics who were not allowed to come to rehab due to the corona pandemic. However, due to the many positive feedback from its own patients, the clinic company decided after a short time to make the offer public.

Two special corona rehabilitation concepts
A rehabilitation measure was also developed by the Dr. Becker Clinic Group to alleviate the expected psychological and social effects of the corona crisis. The doctors of the Dr. Becker Clinics are thus taking up a recommendation of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, published in mid-April. The experts pointed out that corona threatens not only the respiratory tract but also the human psyche. Loss of control, social isolation and traumatic experiences such as domestic violence or the death of a loved one through Corona can trigger mental illnesses or intensify existing disorders. With their new range of services, the Dr. Becker Hospitals are focusing entirely on the performance elements of psychosomatic rehabilitation in order to support the patients’ personal responsibility and provide guidance for this. In developing the concept, the physicians were able to draw on their experience with the “Corona Care Telephone”, which the Dr. Becker Hospital Group had already set up for its employees at the beginning of the crisis.
The chief physicians of the median clinics have developed a rehabilitation measure for corona patients and started it at the end of March. Patients with a severe course of Covid-19 disease and a significantly weakened condition, but who do not require isolation, are treated. The therapy takes particular account of the pneumological functional limitations to be expected in the course of the disease and is suitable both as a follow-up treatment immediately after hospitalisation and as a curative procedure. Guided by physiotherapists and occupational therapists, patients are slowly re-mobilized, their muscles are strengthened, endurance and circulation are trained and practical skills for everyday life are practiced. The rehabilitation concept takes into account in particular the pneumological functional restrictions expected in the context of the disease – with the aim of restoring and normalising respiratory function. In addition to the benefits for corona patients, the Median Clinics also offer relief for acute hospitals by admitting patients earlier.

Online courses and communication aids
Since the end of March, the Asklepios clinics have been offering self-help training on stress management, mindfulness and relaxation via the Internet due to the Corona crisis. The free e-health modules are intended to act as “digital companions” for help functions that are currently not possible due to the restrictions in personal contact. The offers can be used around the clock via PC or as an app with a smartphone. Interested parties can access the modules via the Internet address www.asklepios.com/coronavirus/selbsthilfe or, after registering on the Internet for the first time, via the app with the smartphone. The small audio-visual courses take ten to fifteen minutes each – some units can accompany the users for four to five weeks, for example to repeat mindfulness exercises regularly.
The clinic company wants to offer uncomplicated help for the mental challenges people face in this difficult situation with the online self-help courses tailored to the psychological needs. Because the drastic measures, such as the ban on contact, can cause anxiety and lead to isolation for many people. The e-health modules help to relax or even reduce negative thoughts. The programs are practice-oriented and created by experts and offer guidance and support on “Mindfulness”, “More relaxation”, “Less ruminating”, “Gratitude” and “What is stress?”, “To stay active at home” and “Daily plan for the state of emergency”.
The Asklepios-Westklinikum Hamburg also responded with a special service to the visiting bans and restrictions that have applied to all hospitals since mid-March. Especially for patients who cannot access Skype, Whatsapp and Co and are therefore “cut off from the outside world”, the hospital offers a service telephone number through which relatives and friends can send their greetings, photos, videos and (voice) messages can send to loved ones in the hospital. The clinic then takes on the task of forwarding the messages to the patients.