As of Monday afternoon, 5,000 people had opened their own sick notes (haigusleht) on the Patient Portal after the measure was temporarily introduced to reduce family doctors' workload and limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The new measures were introduced on Monday, March 16 following the government's declaration of an emergency situation due to the coronavirus pandemic late last week.
On Monday Rain Laane, chairman of the health insurance board, told ERR: "The number is about 1,000 sick leave notes [being registered] per hour. If we hadn't done this, family doctor's phones would certainly not have withstood it."
The online sick note is automatically opened upon the patient's request and should be immediately visible to all parties, such as doctors. A medical professional will then contact the opener of the sick note to discuss their symptoms.
"The family doctor will contact you within a week because at the moment the burden is very high. Whether or not a person gets reimbursement depends on the medical decision. It is known that a person has three days' without pay in any case," Laane explained.
At the same time, there was a system malfunction on Monday that is being sought to be corrected by Tuesday. Currently, family doctor's do not receive information about patients who have registered their sick leave. This may mean that the family doctor will take even more time to contact the patient to clarify the symptoms.
"They shouldn't have to worry too much about that at the patient end. If we go to that person in our program, we will see that this page is open," said Vallikivi.
The Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) also believes there are many non-sick people applying for sick leave, who see it as a way out of work. These people will not be paid.
However, people who have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with a coronavirus, but who do not have symptoms themselves, may take sick leave.
The Health Insurance Fund's website in English is here.
The Patient Portal in English is here.
Users should log on using their Estonian ID card or mobile ID and then click on the invalid report menu at left. They should enter their phone number to allow a family doctor or nurse to contact them within seven days (see above).
The sick leave certificate is open from the date of application to March 30, 2020. The exact length of the required sick leave certificate would be discussed with the family doctor.
Editor: Helen Wright