Oldenburg and Groningen researchers work together in new research project

A group of 20 reseachers of the UMCG, RUG and the University of Oldenburg are starting together a research about the difference between the healthcare systems of Germany and the Netherlands are the focus of a new joint research project of the Universities of Oldenburg, Groningen and the UMCG.

Oldenburg and Groningen researchers work together in new research project

An interdisciplinary consortium will investigate how structural differences in these two healthcare systems affect healthcare for patients in the Ems Dollart Region. The project "Comparison of healthcare structures, processes and outcomes in the German and Dutch cross-border region (CHARE-GD I)" will receive around one million euros in funding from the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK) over the next three years.

Best in Europe

The healthcare systems in Germany and the Netherlands are among the best in Europe. However, although the two systems face similar challenges, for example in terms of demographic trends, there are major differences in the way they are organised. For example, the number of hospitals and hospital beds in Germany is higher than in the Netherlands. And whereas in Germany about half of all specialists are in private practice, in the Netherlands almost all specialists are based at hospitals. Yet so far there has been hardly any systematic research into how these structural differences affect healthcare and ultimately treatment outcomes


The team of researchers will use the rural border region between the north-east of the Netherlands and the north-west of Germany as a living laboratory. One of the key objectives of the project is to build up a data infrastructure that identifies and brings together publicly accessible information about the organisation of healthcare in the Ems Dollart Region, which spans both sides of the border. The data is intended to provide a systematic basis for future scientific research and also be made available to decision-makers and patients.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, rehabilitation and nursing homes

In addition, the researchers will study healthcare services in three different sectors: in the area of primary healthcare they plan to compare the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in patients with urinary tract infections. Another sub-project will deal with differences in clinical rehabilitation following hip surgery. And a third sub-project aims to compare healthcare in nursing homes in the two countries. "Our project is also intended to serve as a key starting point for meeting the requirements of the European framework directive - namely implementing the coordination of cross-border healthcare," said Prof. Dr. Alex Friedrich, Professor and Chair of Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention at the University of Groningen.

Position paper

The goal is also to find evidence-based solutions for common problems in healthcare, as the CBI researchers explain in a recently published position paper. According to the signatories of the paper, including the Board of Directors of the Ems Dollart Region, to achieve this goal the participation and commitment of various stakeholders is needed. Therefore, health insurance companies in the region, healthcare policy makers, and health authorities in the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Friesland and in the Weser-Ems region in Germany are invited to join in and support the efforts of the CBI.

Cross-Border Institute of Healthcare Systems and Prevention (CBI)

The project is based at the Cross-Border Institute of Healthcare Systems and Prevention (CBI), a joint initiative of the University of Oldenburg's School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG).

More information about: Cross-Border Institute of Healthcare Systems and Prevention 

The cross-border research includes 4 subprojects:

  1. Cross-border Health Data Compass as a basis for comparative studies. Taking part from the Groningen-side: Jochen Mierau, Faculty of Economics and Business & Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health (AJSPH) is one of the project leaders.
  2. Primary care: management of urinary tract infections and antibiotic resistance. Taking part from the UMCG: Alex W. Friedrich and Corinna Glasner, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infection Control. 
  3. Hospitals: patient characteristics, rehabilitation and outcome after total hip arthroplasty. Taking part from the UMCG: Sjoerd Bulstra and Martin Stevens, Department of Human Movement Sciences
  4. Nursing homes: structures and healthcare provision. Taking part from the UMCG: Sytse Zuidema, Department of General Practice Medicine