What is the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG)?
The IQWiG is an independent scientific institute that is financed by contributions from statutory health insurance funds. It has several duties established by law. These include assessing the advantages and disadvantages of medical interventions, for example comparing different drugs or surgical procedures. The focus is always on whether evidence actually exists to show that something helps patients. Whether, for example, a drug effectively alleviates symptoms, improves quality of life, or prevents the consequences of a disease.
The IQWiG is scientifically independent: neither industry, nor health insurance funds, nor authorities can influence the results published in reports. The institute can only accept commissions from the Joint Federal Committee (G-BA) and the Federal Ministry of Health. In addition, citizens can submit suggestions for scientific evaluations of examination and treatment procedures to the IQWiG using the “ThemenCheck Medizin” (“Medical Topic Check”) service.
In addition to assessing medicines and treatments, the IQWiG also fulfills another important legal function: it supplies citizens with understandable information on the most common health issues. Since 2006, it has done so by offering the free and advertising-free website gesundheitsinformation.de.
gesundheitsinformation.de aims to help citizens make well-informed decisions. To achieve this, the IQWiG follows international quality and transparency standards. A permanent team of scientists, doctors, and editors creates and updates the content provided on gesundheitsinformation.de.
The most important principles are:
- Remaining up to date: the texts, decision-making tools, diagrams, and videos are based on systematically researched, reliable studies from international literature. The sources are indicated below the texts. As medical findings change, the information is subject to a permanent update plan to ensure it is always up to date.
- Involving patients: before new information is created, the employees speak to self-help groups, for example, and conduct research through the use of studies in which people are asked about their information needs. What aspects are particularly important? What are patients concerned about?
- Writing clearly: there is no simple answer to many medical questions. In such cases, it is about not concealing this and yet still providing clear explanations. Draft texts are always tested on readers – and their suggestions are considered prior to publication.
- Informing comprehensively: anyone who wants to weigh up what is best for him or her must first know all the key options. We therefore describe all the possibilities available, for example when treating a condition, and outline their advantages and disadvantages in an objective and balanced fashion. Incidentally, not to undergo treatment is often also an option. We do not conceal either this fact or gaps in our knowledge: there are (as yet) no clear answers to some medical questions.
Details of how we work can be found at gesundheitsinformation.de.