The actual Corona pandemic strains and sometimes overstrains the healthcare systems in the different countries. eHealth solution can help to lighten the load of the different professions a little bit or at least to support them in their work.
This is the reason for this article, to show which eHealth tools are used by the different partner countries to handle the crisis. This article is only an overview of some selected measures in Denmark, Estonia, Finland and Germany. It should demonstrate the changes in the eHealth sector that are happening now.
Please note: Numbers and facts about COVID-19 will not be part, because they are daily changing. This information can be found on the website of the WHO (http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19).
In the current situation video consultations with the doctor are a good possibility to guarantee the medical care. Especially people with chronical diseases need regular contact to the doctor but are part of the high-risk group. They can stay at home and have their consultation online. Furthermore, it helps to prevent infections other people in the waiting room and the of the medical staff.
In Denmark this is possible with the app “Min læge” (My doctor) that is provided to the doctors.
In Germany video consultation are normally allowed, but only for a set percentage of patients. This regulation is abolished for the next quartile to allow the care of all patients that are for example in quarantine. Some providers of video consultation software offer their service for free at the moment. Psychologists are allowed to use these solutions for their consultations, as well.
Also, the Estonian Health Insurance Fund decided to fund remote doctor appointments to outpatient appointments. This is possible via telephone, video call or web chat. Furthermore, the mental health support over phone is being widened in Estonia.
Another reason to visit the doctor is the necessity of a sick note for the employer. To avoid these visits the Estonia and Germany changed the procedure to get the sick note.
In Estonia sick notes can temporary be opened online to reduce the workload of the family doctors. The online sick note will be forwarded to the Health Insurance Fund, the employer and the family doctor. Within a week the patient will be contacted by the family doctor to clarify the state of health and to confirm the sick leave.
In Germany it is possible for doctors to write a sick note without seeing the patient physically. If a patient has a light disease of the upper respiratory tracts a sick note up to 14 days is possible.
To support inhabitants to decide, if they have to see a doctor, self-assessment platforms can be used.
The electronic service channel for social welfare, healthcare and oral healthcare services Omaolo in Finland provides a tool to access the patient’s symptoms. Customers can use the symptom assessment to self-evaluate a symptom or health condition. Based on the answers, the service gives a recommendation on further actions and care instructions.
In Germany for example the university hospital Charité in Berlin started a Corona application (CovApp) to assess the necessity of a Corona test. The assessment will be done by the patient and a recommendation about the further steps will be given. With a QR-Code the results can be forwarded to the medical staff in case of a suspicion of an infection.
Additionally, to all these measures by the health insurances, governments and medical institution a big number of people wanted to tackle the crisis with new ideas.
Due to that Estonia started the online hackathon “Hack the crisis” to create innovative solutions.
People in Germany and Finland followed this example and organized similar events.
These events have not been healthcare related, but due to the fact that the crisis is set off by a disease eHealth tools have been an important part of the events.
All in all, a lot have been done to still provide the needed healthcare services and that can be a chance for more digitalization in this area. A high level of flexibility is visible at the moment – because the people are forced to be flexible. Some of the measures are temporary with a good reason, but some other will have a chance to establish afterwards. eHealth solutions have a lot of advantages, regardless of this world-wide pandemic.
The people have to adapt to the current situation, are trying new things and maybe in some cases will accept new tools. Hopefully some of these tools will be more successful – even after the Corona crisis
All sources can be found here (some of them are only in the national languages):