Interview with Christian Jager
„In health economics it is important to remain true to oneself and to understand that it is not only about business management but also about the care of the population"
Our alumnus Christian Jager (2015 - Master of Health Economics) is founder and managing director of InnovaPrax GmbH, a business consultancy in the health care sector.
Before founding the company, Christian Jager worked for several years as a paramedic for the public ambulance service and in a central emergency room. His work in the emergency medical services led him to numerous doctors' offices, nursing homes and other health care facilities. His impressions and experiences gained there led to the idea for his company. The focus of his work lies in the areas of quality management, hygiene and data protection. With his work, Christian Jager supports medical offices, dental offices, nursing homes, outpatient care services as well as emergency services and their organisations in ensuring high-quality care for the population.
We talked to him about the effects of the Corona crisis on the health care system and about his time as a student at the WiSo faculty. Furthermore, he gives our students valuable tips.
Dear Mr. Jager, the corona crisis has put the healthcare systems of many countries to test. What does the pandemic mean for German hospitals, nursing homes and doctors' practices? Is it possible to guarantee high-quality health care for the population?
The current situation poses immense challenges for the stakeholders in our health care system. At the beginning of the crisis, uncertainty was felt above all in hospitals and medical practices. At the beginning, the information channels of the federal or state governments were not yet properly developed, so we spent a lot of time providing our customers with up-to-date and reliable information.
The need for advice at the health care facilities we serve rose sharply. In some cases, our customers reported bottlenecks in disinfectants even before regulations were in place. This was and is a fine line to draw in order to make the right recommendations.
In the initial phase, we were in contact with ministries, associations and institutes almost daily. The implementation of new recommendations and regulations cost a lot of resources in clinics, practices and nursing homes. These resources are available in Germany without the quality of our treatment suffering.
We have seen how quickly our health facilities can react. Therefore I am convinced that our health care system is efficient and can guarantee high-quality care for our population.
It is important that we learn from this pandemic and draw the right conclusions.
The capacities in our healthcare system are already designed for the entire population.
In your opinion, how is the German healthcare system prepared for the Corona crisis?
In Germany we are used to high-quality care. Everyone in Germany has access to medical care. That is important and right.
It is not easy to maintain this in such a crisis. In my opinion, we owe this above all to our colleagues in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' practices, emergency services and fire brigades. These are already performing enormously well in "normal operation", regardless of qualification or occupational group.
Both aspects help us in the current crisis. The capacities in our health care system are already designed for the entire population and this with not a few contacts to doctors. Some of them can be postponed or are not necessary. So in such a scenario we have more capacities that we can mobilize. We also have structural advantages over other countries. These include our strong outpatient sector.
Preventively, we could have done much more. In our democracy, there are politically responsible people who have to make decisions about what our tax money is spent on. In the end, it is then a matter of weighing up the various "pots".
So I can understand why this point has perhaps been somewhat neglected in the past. The question of whether what we have done so far is sufficient can therefore only be assessed after the crisis.
Who would have believed a few months ago that political consensus was possible in such a short time? I have never before seen federal state politicans communicate as clearly and distinctly as they have done these days.
How do you assess the crisis management of Health Minister Jens Spahn?
As I mentioned earlier, we have got off to a somewhat slow start in Germany. At least the public perception came relatively late.
However, the RKI has been dealing with Covid-19 for quite some time now, for example, at the beginning of February we already informed our customers about disinfection measures and personal protective equipment based on the RKI recommendations. The experts had it in mind much earlier. This is why I am convinced that the quality of our crisis management cannot be measured by individuals. In my opinion, the responsible federal and state authorities and institutes have shown that they work. To be honest, I am somewhat impressed by the ability of our state to act.
Who would have believed a few months ago that political consensus is possible in such a short time? Probably none. I have never seen federal politics and also the state governments communicate as clearly and distinctly as they have done these days.
What do you think about the use of mobile data to contain the pandemic?
I think the use of mobile phone data makes sense in principle. However, it must of course be done in close consultation with data protection experts in order to protect the personal rights of each individual.
Only through satisfied employees can we achieve satisfied patients. There is no general solution here, but it takes many measures to increase overall satisfaction.
The nursing staff is often overworked. How can the nursing profession and working conditions be improved?
This question is not easy to answer. I think we have to go into more detail here too. There is a big difference between the professions.
For example, a nurse for the elderly earns less than a health and nursing care worker. In addition, managers in our health care system are sometimes experts but have never been properly trained as managers.
We often observe this with our clients and we should continue to work on this. Only through satisfied employees can we achieve satisfied patients. There is no general solution here, but it takes many measures to increase the overall satisfaction.
What do you advise or how do you advise the facilities you are looking after during this extraordinary time?
We have significantly increased our resources in hygiene management and are currently giving priority to dealing with the hygiene-related questions of our existing customers.
Our recommendations are as varied as the questions. On the one hand, we are currently communicating a lot in order to filter out the most important information for the individual customer groups from the enormous amount of information available. On the other hand, we have also taken further measures to be closer to our customers' employees.
One example is a regular consultation hour on hygiene. This gives every employee the opportunity to ask questions in a regular time slot. The answers are given directly by our hygiene consultants. Sometimes it helps if an external one supports the communication of the management in this way. Thanks to our support concept, our customer advisor can answer very specifically. This is because the employer's measures are usually based on recommendations from our consultants.
What are the most important contents or insights from your studies for your current profession?
I changed to the University of Cologne after my Bachelor's degree at the FH.
Therefore I can only judge the time I spent in the Master's. As my Bachelor's degree was very much dominated by business administration, I was often allowed to put on the economic glasses in the Master's at the UzK. This helps in everyday life, because you understand interrelationships better and look at health systems as a whole.
These skills can be transferred very well to practical challenges. It is often necessary to "zoom out" and look at challenges from a distance. This often leads to solutions.
In addition, lectures on business development, HR or ethics have remained in my head. I think this is very subjective and is mainly due to the environment in which I was founded.
I was able to gain insights into many fields and thus develop a holistic view.
Please complete the sentence: When I think back to my time as a student at the University of Cologne, I think...
...of the varied specialties and choices of the program.
I was able to gain insights into many fields and thus develop a holistic view.
What would you like to give our students to take with them? What are your three tips?
It helped me enormously during my studies to work practically in the health sector. I can only recommend this to everyone. For graduates it is often a competitive advantage in the later application phase.
In health economics it is important to stay true to oneself and to understand that it is not only about business administration, but also about the care of the population. This can only be done together with the many professional groups in the industry. Therefore, one should meet everyone on an equal footing and, especially when it comes to medical issues, not become too overbearing.
As a last tip: Enjoy your time at university! Celebrate, learn, travel abroad. One semester more or less does not decide on success or failure. The important thing is that you find your thing.
Interview: Ayla Wisselinck