As a non-profit organisation, our goals include providing information and creating networks. And in this field, we also go beyond national boundaries. This is because contact with other countries and their healthcare systems gives both parties opportunities to exchange ideas, find inspiration and critically interrogate supposedly self-evident facts. Whether these are neighbours such as France or Sweden or distant countries such as South Korea and the US, dialogue about the issues facing healthcare there and insight into different systems and points of view have repeatedly proven to be beneficial for the BMVZ’s own work as well.
Vibrant information exchange is also so fruitful for us because on each occasion it concerns issues with the most diverse kinds of content. The delegation from Austria had a lot of questions about the function of medical care centres (MVZs) in everyday healthcare and how to establish them. The state officials from South Korea wanted to learn about and understand how Germany handled the challenges of overcoming the legal problems of a previously divided country, and what lessons for health policy might be derived from this in relation to the Korean question. The Swedish delegation was interested in understanding where the fine distinctions between the German MVZs and their own system of municipal health centres were situated, and comparing the two. On their list of questions, the visitors from the US had the concrete problem of healthcare possibilities for unregistered refugees. By contrast, the delegates from Kazakhstan arrived with the desire to understand the German healthcare system as a whole, in order to find ideas for their planned reform of healthcare structures in the country. With the representatives of the French doctors’ associations, there was a wide-ranging dialogue concerning the common challenge both countries faced in having to address the shortage of doctors in rural areas.
Some of these contacts are still ongoing today, and are leading to ever-new shifts of perspective in individual points of view. For BMVZ, therefore, international exchange has been a valuable opportunity for further development and a stimulus for ideas about a cooperative outpatient care system, and continues to be.