Prof. Joachim Breuer: Professorship for Insurance Medicine

Prof. Dr Joachim Breuer is invested with the professorship of the newly established university chair for insurance medicine at our Universität zu Lübeck

The primary sponsor of the chair established on 1 October 2018 is the association for occupational safety & health insurance at the therapy centre in Hamburg, sponsor of the association for occupational safety & health insurance at the trauma centre in Hamburg. On 18 June, Prof. Breuer will give his inaugural lecture entitled “Healthy is not enough – What return-to-work programmes deliver.”

In Germany, the term insurance medicine is not new. It was introduced to the field of medicine, as the social security system was established in the German Reich at the end of the 19th century. In recent times, this terminology has been effectively supressed, but has since been resuscitated. Physicians and institutes are again using this designation – but primarily in the sense of an assessment or expert opinion.

Only a few university chairs in Germany incorporate insurance medicine as the primary tasks at their institutes for occupational and social medicine. However, insurance medicine plays an important, if not the primary role in social and healthcare policies of many countries around the world. Under such circumstances and in connection with legal and political influences and possibilities, insurance medicine plays a crucial role as the parameter linking medicine, economics and sociology.

Coalesce the multitude of diverse discussions on healthcare into a comprehensive debate

In other parts of Europe, insurance medicine bears much greater significance than in Germany. For example, the University of Budapest runs an Institute for Forensics and Insurance Medicine, the University of Basel founded the Academy of Suisse Insurance Medicine (ASIM) for lectures and research into services associated with this field. The university chair for insurance medicine was established at our Universität zu Lübeck in the face of a backdrop of underdeveloped presence of insurance medicine in Germany– initially to focus on research and later on teaching too.

Prof. Dr Joachim Breuer, born in 1956, went to law school in Bonn and Berlin, obtained his Dr jur. in 1985 at the University of Bonn. In 1990, he was the advisor for occupational and social issues at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). In 1995, he was in the management at HVBG, the Central Trade Association for occupational safety & health insurance, from 1995–2002 the CEO of the Association of Miners in Bochum for occupational safety & health insurance, from 2002–18 the CEO of HVBG (now DGUV – the German Occupational Safety & Health Insurance Association).

Prof. Breuer is the President of the International Association for Social Security (IVSS) and the Club de Genève - Global Social Future in Switzerland, Co-President of the International Disability Management Standards Council (IDMSC) in Canada, board member of the European Forum for Occupational Safety & Health Insurance (FORUM) and the Pacific Coast University (PCU) in Canada, member of the Senate of the German Economy, Chair of the board of directors of ZNS Hannelore Kohl Foundation and Society for Insurance Science and Organisation (GVG), and member of the supervisory board of Medical Park AG and board of trustees of APOLLON University of Bremen.

Prof. Breuer’s personal creed states: “It is extremely urgent that we coalesce the multitude of diverse and minor discussions on healthcare into a comprehensive debate founded on organisations and philosophies.”

Great potential for research and practical care benefits

Insurance medicine and the underlying conviction should be considered and taken much more broadly than just a means for expert assessment and quality. In today’s society and its social classes, exogenous factors like work and lifestyles and attendant social security structures are increasingly influencing and impacting diseases and injuries. Our modern comprehension of insurance medicine illustrates the high expectations on the interdisciplinary nature and understanding of the system of social security structures. This field of science deals with an area of medicine directly associated with the tasks linked thereto, with the potential to impact therapy and treatments, without having to self-apply or execute them.

It should not be a problem to get sustained financing for this university chair, in view of the extraordinary scientific and political profile of insurance medicine within various private and social safety nets of social insurance.

Prof. Breuer considers this initiation in Lübeck as unique, since all partnership structures are in place and all insurance companies are represented, along with the occupational safety & health clinic for trauma surgery, and all key disciplines of social medicine and healthcare science. Of particular significance in shaping the university chair will be the state-funded occupational safety & health programme based in Lübeck, with its own in-patient trauma surgery ward offering the potential for a high degree of research and practical care.

In his inaugural address (at 5 pm on 18 June in Audimax 4), he delves into the necessity and effectiveness of return-to-work programmes to reinstate patients’ fitness for work within the occupational health & safety programme, also from an international perspective, and its impact on medical treatment.

Prof. Dr Joachim Breuer