Ensuring medical care provision in disadvantaged regions

Headed by:
Dr. Renate Reiter
Project Status:

Medical Provision

Type of project: Externally funded project (DFG and ANR)

Short description

Ensuring nation-wide and high-level healthcare provision is a core task of public policy. In many developed welfare states, signs of a worsening supply in disadvantaged regions have been increasing for a long time. Healthcare systems in Western Europe are facing similar challenges (in particular demographic change, epidemiological developments, medical-technical progress, and social change). National healthcare politics debate and address these supply problems differently, however. This comparative research project examines which political strategies selected Western European welfare states – characterized by a set of typical institutions – have developed to respond to these problems over the period from 2000 until recently. In addition, it investigates how these policies were subsequently implemented at national and regional level.

On the one hand, our research interest is directed at analyzing and explaining the definition of policy objectives and the choice of instruments. We elaborate a typology of problem perception and policy formulation regarding the challenges in healthcare supply. In addition, we test causal relationships between characteristics of national systems and the selection of political strategy. On the other hand, the project investigates whether healthcare systems are changing, for instance through the formation of new regulative and institutional structures (hybridization), or whether the observed solutions remain within the remit of established regulations and institutions (path dependency). The methods applied in this investigation are based on qualitative content analysis of documents and interviews with experts. The analysis of national-level strategies is supplemented with regional case studies. Apart from generating new scientific insights, the project promises practical political benefits by gauging the possibilities of international policy transfers (policy learning).