Nikolaus Varchmin: Digital is one of the Main Trends for Healthcare in Germany
Healthcare Senior Project Manager and Healthcare Lead for Germany
What are the main trends currently challenging healthcare in Germany?
Digital is one of the main trends for healthcare in Germany. We talk a lot about Hospitals 4.0 and using a cloud computing model to collect, analyse and distribute data. We need to prioritize technology from the first stages of building a new hospital to create the best, most efficient experience for patients and staff. By considering the digital infrastructure, we can provide a Future Ready and resilient hospital throughout, covering everything from the cabling, wiring and WIFI to sophisticated corridors that provide for technology such as robots and automatic doors.
Another trend in Germany is the abundance of medical treatment centres being built next to the large hospitals. These act as primary patient referral facilities for the associated hospitals.
What are the main drivers that are changing healthcare delivery?
In Germany, planning for healthcare delivery is based on predicted numbers in the community for any given course of treatment. This planned economy is, however, subject to annual changes in regulations and local laws, and so healthcare provision – and those managing it – must be flexible and adaptable. The challenge for both public and private healthcare systems is to provide the care needed while balancing budgets at the same time as aligning predicted demand with actual demand.
Another driver for change is the local infrastructure in rural communities. Most of the large hospitals, which offer the majority of specialized services, are based in cities. The rural hospitals, whose ageing infrastructure dates back to the 60s and 70s, are in great need of improvement and cannot offer specialized services, which limits their profitability and investment opportunities. Consequently, these smaller hospitals are disappearing, and one focus of our work is to provide new buildings that enable a resilient future to provide for future demands.
What aspect of your role in healthcare do you find most rewarding?
I find it truly rewarding to be involved in the construction of hospitals, places designed to care for people, and I enjoy every aspect of working through the building process. Understanding the daily workings of the healthcare setting allows me to deliver on every detail for my clients.
If you were a piece of medical equipment, what would you be?
I’d like to be an everyday item, which is very useful and always to hand. So, I’d say a mobile phone – a real communication tool.
What job would you choose to do in a hospital?
Every year I volunteer to shadow a different role in a hospital, anything from a director to a cleaner. This gives me the unique opportunity to gain insight into the staff and patient journeys. I find it fascinating, and the people I meet are so good-hearted and friendly and there is such warmth between colleagues. I’d like to work in this environment – especially with my friend ‘E’ on the anaesthesia nursing team.
Nikolaus is passionate about the future of healthcare construction. After a career of 14 years in project management and construction, Nikolaus took up a project management position in a private clinic in 2014. In this role he managed all in-house contractual services and gained a wealth of knowledge about the inner working of a hospital. His success in this role led to him becoming responsible for all his employer’s national buildings projects. Nikolaus joined WSP in January 2020 as healthcare lead for Germany and is part of the global healthcare network.