MSc PNP Study Trip to the Netherlands ~2019~

Before entering the final year of their studies, the MSc Students majoring in Public and Nonprofit Management traditionally embark on a one-week study trip to gain practical insights and discuss contemporary trends and challenges with high-level public sector managers, government officials and practitioners.

This year’s study trip goes to the Netherlands and the students will learn about the development and implementation of ‚Smart City’ agendas, the management of respective projects and trends in the digitalization of public administration. Another focus is on the management of financial resources at local and central government level as well as in NGOs. Given that public and nonprofit organizations are unlike corporates not ultimately aiming for revenue maximization and profit margins and rather strive for public value creation and/or societal impact, other performance measurement indicators, management instruments and processes are required. In line with these topics, the students is awaiting a series of interesting and hopefully inspiring meetings and presentations. During the next week, the students will take over this blog and share their impressions and learnings.

Approaching Amsterdam / The Netherlands from above with water, dikes and an onshore wind farm.

Royal Free Hospital London UK

After a warm welcome and introduction to the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust we enjoyed several different programm points on RFH: Starting with the positioning of the Royal Free London NHS Trust in the hospital environment; followed by the performance measurement in the NHS.


Furthermore, we learnt that the Royal Free London is the only center in UK to offer specialist robotic surgery. In June 2019 they marked the 5th year anniversary of Robotic Surgery at RFH!


The next programm point covered a subject we haven‘t heard from before on our study trip: Private Practice. Most London NHS teaching hospitals have a private patient unit – so Royal Free Private Patients is one of these. But Royal Free private business is small with a strategic goal to double private patients sectors by doing a lot of marketing and to capitalise on their strengths. NHS budgets are under pressure and Provate Patients profit can help to fill the gap!

After getting a lot of information we had two different tours around the RFH – our personal highlight: Firstly the High Level Isolation Unit – patient pathway and staff involvement. Secondly the Patient Centred Care – Dementia Friendly Ward!

High Level Isolation Unit
Dementia Friendly Ward

Now, everything has an end. And so does our study trip. After a great week with some confusing and some very enlightening experiences, with very fun evenings, many burgers, beers and ciders, we go back home, happy to return to a country with more money in the healthcare system. We say thanks for a great organisation and guidance through the week by Alfred Angerer, Karin Brunner and Eva Hollenstein.

Students, out…!

Birthday, General Practitioners and the plague!

07:00 am, good morning London!

At 08:00 am we started towards Elephant & Castle, where we had to take the Northern line towards Edgware. The first two trains we had to skip because of overcrowded tube. Thus, we also got to know the real London with the commuter traffic in the underground. After a few stations the train emptied and at the station Euston we could leave the tube.

08:45 am, with five minutes delay we reached our first destination: Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). As the name suggests, they represent General Practitioners (GP) throughout the UK. It is a huge network with over 52’000 Docters. They act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards. In addition, RCGP International, supporting Family Medicine Worldwide and has been for over 60 years.

Meeting Room at RCGP – Prof. Dr. Alfred Angerer is visibly happy about the provided water.

At 09:00 am the presentation started in a beautiful conference room with plenty of coffee and ballpens not working (only our student Adnan knew how to use them).
After a short introduction we started with a lot of information.

Tricky ballpen.

The importance of the GPs can be illustrated by the following facts:

  • 90% of patient contacts are in general practice (primary care)
  • over 1 million GP consultations every day

The GPs manages both, acute & chronic disease, co-ordinates care, promotes Health and they are responsible for the health of community.

Further, they have the following key features:
First point of medical contact, manages undifferentiated illness, Holistic Care (physical, social, psychological). Very important to know, GPs are free agents and not paided by the NHS.

Nevertheless, recent substantial growth in the number of GPs employed on a salaried basis. To this end, the GPs conclude contracts with the practices, but not with the NHS. This further underpins their independence.

In future (5 year plan of the NHS) groups of neighboring GP practices will work together serving a population of 30’000 – 50’000 people. This shifts towards an integrated care an focuses on population health. This is expected to result in a better patient care, value for money, economy of scale and last but not least, its continuous improvements to population health. Challenges to integrated care are e.g. shared records and it systems, complexity of care, ageing, chronic disease and much more.

Debriefing in the RCGP entrance hall.

After about 2 hours of presentation and a lot of information, we started the lunch break, which lasted until 14:00 pm. At this point we would like to say thanks for the great presentation of the RCGP and are looking forward to the guided tour “Path-ologies” of the National Gallery.

Woman ignoring our group taking a group picture..

14:00 pm, the tour in the afternoon was staggering and mind blowing. First we looked at pictures in the National Gallery, which were always related to diseases. Second, we went outside where we looked at locations that were related to people or diseases. All in all, the tour invited us to think about the past and the future. So the tour ended with a discussion about the origin of the vaccination and its current implementation, which leaves a lot to be desired.
In this sense stay healthy.

Portrait of a woman suffering from Paget’s disease by Quinten Massys (about 1513)

Tonight the whole group will have dinner together. More about that tomorrow.

NOT TO FORGET: Happy Birthday to our fellow student Rahel Stäheli! LET’S CELEBRATE!

What a good, what a brilliant, what a nice day for NICE

Wednesday, 04th September what a good, what a brilliant, what a nice day for NICE – the national institute for health and care excellence.

In front of the NICE entrance.

The publicly funded system delivers evidence based guidance predominantly for the UK Healthcare system under the approach “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Clinicians and GP’s are not always obliged to use the guidelines provided by NICE – we can relate. If you read this blog right now think of it, it’s because we’ve been forced to write it.

Besides the history and current work, one of the main topics been the health technology assessment with some actual cases discussed.

We’re very happy to have visited this NICE facilities, plus for the first time this week we’ve heard slow and understandable English. Thank you, that was NICE.

Finishing off the day with some shopping and food treatment in Camden market we can say this day has been a good one.

NHS Improvement & Health Foundry – Day 2

After yesterday’s pub tour was survived, everyone arrived in time in front of the NHS Improvement building in the morning. Everybody could get a first overview of the development of the English health care system after the Security Check. The pre-briefing about the upcoming daily routine was followed by a labyrinth-like corridor system leading the students into the meeting room.
The presentations contained the following topics:

  • Pricing, Funding and the National Tariff
  • Regulation of oversight
  • Economics and Competition in the NHS
  • NHS Providers: Strong Providers, Collaborations and groups and smaller acute providers

In the late afternoon the journey continued to the Health Foundry, where an impression of the world of Tech Health start ups was given.

The contrast between the rigid structures of the NHS and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Health Foundry could not be overlooked. These two different worlds should work more closely together in the future to overcome the big challenges of the english health system. As different as the NHS and the Health Foundry may seem, they agree at least on one point: the prevention should be given more attention!

Do more with less – the NHS in a nutshell

Beautiful view from the tower bridge

Monday morning 10.30am: the 14 students of the MSc Health Economics and Healthcare Management kicked off their study trip with an introductory meeting. Everyone made it safely to the meeting after some have suffered from delays, cancelled flights and involuntary train trips to London.
The class is now looking forward to an interesting week that will give them the opportunity to have a peek into the English healthcare system.

But before the first point of the agenda, we enjoyed the nice weather and had a stroll along the bank of the Thames river.

Visit NHS England

4 key note speakers took us on a whistle stop tour through the NHS. After an intense 3 hours, the take home messages for the class were:

  • British people are very proud of their free national health care system
  • The NHS is a super complex, chaotic and intertwined organisation
  • Brexit has a huge impact on workforce planning, as in London 25% of nurses are from the EU
  • Mental health problems are a key issue that the NHS is trying to tackle in collaboration with the population and local authorities

The day was rounded off by a Pub visit and dinner at the “Mercato Metropolitano” Food Market near Elephant & Castle.

Travelblog Day 16: Last day of the trip

After breakfast, around 7:15 am, we boarded a next boat and traveled for about 40 minutes to get to the first landscape, Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho. This is the largest of its type in the whole Mekong delta. During this visit, we had a chance to board a merchant boat that sells pineapples. After spending 2 hours at the market, our journey back to Ho Chi Minh began. On the way back, we had a stop at an interesting point to rest and had lunch. The same evening some of the students even had their flights to Switzerland.

We would like to thank Dr. Braun and ZHAW SML for offering us the opportunity to do the study field trip. It was a unique experience for everyone. We also thank Wei Sun and Tra Mi Cong for their assistance in facilitating our organization in China and Vietnam. Ultimately, we would also like to thank the companies we had the pleasure to visit. They have given us an insight into their processes and showed how things work in Asia thus increased this unique experience. We hope that the study field trip will keep taking place many years to come and wish the future participants an exciting, experiential journey.


ZHAW Emerging Markets Fieldtrip 2019

Travelblog Day 15: Mekong Delta – Ben Tre & Can Tho

After 2 weeks of intense and interesting company visits, the last part of our trip was to visit the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is a huge labyrinth of rivers and islands with floating markets and villages surrounded by rice fields. We were picked up from the hotel at 07:30 am. After 2,5 hour drive we arrived at Ben Tre. Our tour of the region started here. Boats are the main means of transportation. We boarded our boat, which took us on the rivers of the Mekong Delta.

Our first stop was a coconut factory. The Ben Tre area is famous for its coconut candy. Local women work in small factories making these sweets spending their hours boiling the sticky coconut before rolling it out and slicing them into pieces.

Later transportation got small and personal. We were divided into groups and got on small row boats. Now it was Dr. Braun’s time to show his rowing skills. We drew for 15 minutes under Braun’s leadership. During this 15 minutes trip, we enjoyed the fresh air along the canal and beautiful water coconut tree scenery.

After a little walk, we got on tuc tuc’s. Some of us had some difficulty fitting into the tuc tuc’s. After a 15-minute ride, we boarded a large wooden boat for lunch.  We were shown how to make Vietnamese spring rolls and made our own spring rolls. After spending 2.30 hours on the boat we drove to Can Tho to stay overnight.

Can Tho is home to 1.5 million people, and it is the capital city of the Mekong Delta. When we arrived at the hotel, some of us went directly to the roof of the hotel where a bar was found and watched the sunset. The last evening of our trip we ate at a restaurant where we could also watch Federer’s semi-final match against Nadal.

Travelblog Day 14: Ho Chi Minh – Last company visit

Today was our last company visit before heading to the Mekong Delta to end our trip.

The bus driver picked us up on time and we headed out. After driving 40 minutes we arrived near a spacious and lush company campus where our host company was located. Only to notice that we were on the wrong side of the road. This was a bit of a challenge to walk with a group of 14 people over a road at rush hour time. But with a couple of hand signals and confidence to just walk on over the busy street we succeeded.

The company we visited was Swiss Post Solutions Vietnam where Jen Nguyen, Customer Management and Anatolijus Fouracre, Managing Director, gave us an introduction to the company and their IT Projects. We received an excellent insight into the operations of SPS Vietnam such as digitization, data processing and software development. The expertise of the entire onsite team was impressive.

They also gave us a tour of the whole building where we could see how their program and OCR (Optical character recognition) system works. This system analyses various documents that need to be digitalised and transforms them in a computer readable format. This information can later be used to gain useful customer data and patterns which is then processed for a personalised shopping experience.

It was interesting to see that they have customers all around the world and that pne of their main customer base is the United States.

In the afternoon we enjoyed walking around the city and going to different craft beer breweries before hitting up some street food stalls in the evening.

Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City

After a more or less flawless journey so far we had 2 minor incidents today.

We arrived at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City on time. The passport check took 1 hour but everybody was connected to the internet via mobile phones which eased the waiting time.

The luggage, which was already put beside the conveyor belt, was already waiting for us. One luggage piece was missing so we searched the remaining belts for it. Without success. Tra Mi was left without luggage and had to get some clothes for the remaining days. (Note: Her luggage finally arrived on Thursday evening)

Luckily we had accommodated for some buffer time to mitigate the risk of being late. So we headed on to the bus and made our way to the Shoe factory. We arrived at the location at the agreed time 13:08. Our guide then phoned the company to ask if he was at the correct gate. They sent us somewhere else just to call us again and tell us to come back to that same location where we had been before. After some misunderstandings and 1.5 hours later, stuck in huge traffic we aborted the mission to visit the factory and instead made our way to the hotel where we arrived at 16:00.

To conclude we can say that we had a very chaotic introduction to Ho Chi Minh City but on the other hand it was interesting to see how Vietnam differs in organising and carrying out things in comparison to China and Hong Kong.

Despite not visiting the factory we then had a bit more free time to explore the city which was also rewarding. The sheer amount of motorcycles that bustle around the city show how chaotic life is here. Yet somehow it seems to be how things work here and no accidents happen.

In the evening we met up with Jean Paul Hässig, Chairman of Swiss Business Association in Vietnam who has 30 years experience in Cotton Trade and has been living in Vietnam for 10 years and brought along his coworker Daniele who lives in Vietnam since 2014 (5 years). They gave us a very insightful presentation in the Cotton trade business which was very interesting. They discussed their personal opinion with us about the current trade war between China and the US. After that we went to a local Vietnamese restaurant and ordered various dishes to share. The food was very delicious. Overall we had a relaxing day with a good ending.