The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) is spending over €153 million this year to improve family doctor and related care, particularly in rural areas. The spend includes broadened e-consultation options, new health centers, and a streamlined system for replacing rural doctors who are retiring.
Spending will increase by €8 million more than in 2019.
The Estonian Health Insurance Fund (EHIF)'s primary healthcare department head Külli Friedemann said that recently-initiated projects included child psychiatry e-consultations between family doctors and medical specialists, as well as a pending andrology (male reproductive and urological health-ed.) e-consultation system.
Every county bar Põlva County in the southeast of the country is also to get at least one new health center, Friedemann added, with over 20 in the pipeline (Põlva recently had two new health centers recently completed), and a focus on rural doctors is also in EHIF's sights.
"We are increasing the funding of family doctor care outside Tallinn and Tartu, to ensure that family doctors are still available in rural areas. To this end, we are directing an additional €2.9 million into family doctor care," Friedemann said.
Additionally, family doctors who are retiring will be able to hire replacements more easily.
"This will help ensure the consistency of medical care, and simplify finding a new colleague to replace [the outgoing doctors]," Friedemann added, with options open to hiring part-time second family nurses as well, she added.
Changes are also being made to the so-called family doctors' quality system, which now includes indicators aimed at better motivating family doctors to engage in monitoring the chronically sick, as well as children, better, Friedemann also noted.
The EHIF says that around 200 family doctors require support in order to improve healthcare, as revealed by its own evaluations.
A mentoring system for family doctor practices making use of experienced colleague to improve areas such as better coordination with nurses, a more personalized service provision, and more, has also been rolled-out and this will see improvements and ongoing evaluation.
Editor: Andrew Whyte