The Share of Telemedicine Increases
Due to the increasing demand and shortage of resources, the coming years will be characterised by discussions on the sustainability of financing and sufficiency of the financed service package in health care.
Steady progress in medicine, including digitalisation of health care, enables to increase the life expectancy of people and improve welfare, which in turn increases the need for medical services. According to the OSKA healthcare study, the need for labour force in health care will increase by at least a tenth by 2027 in comparison to 2017. The predicted increase of promotional and preventive work can only be effective with enough staff. The challenges of our health care system are the high percentage of aged doctors and thus the need to replace those who are retiring, as well as the significant shortage of nurses.
During the first wave of the crisis, several changes took place in the employment of health care workers. The number of persons working in emergency medicine units increased, new people were hired in infection control and in triage. In regions with greater spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, reduction of planned treatment helped mitigate the shortage of staff during the first wave of the virus.
Restrictions on the mobility of people during the virus crisis increased the workload of health care service providers, it was necessary both to provide treatment through telemedicine and to serve patients in health care facilities. Provision of remote care, like virtual visits, remote diagnostics, e-consultation, phone triage, telemedicine, requires both jointly developed principles and the skills necessary for implementing them. The virus crisis has brought the mental health of people into the focus. Fear, anxiety and stress caused by isolation, unemployment and other factors increase the need for consultations relating to mental health. The share of promotional and preventive work in primary level health care services will increase. The pharmacists could also make a greater contribution to preventing diseases and promoting health, so that it would be possible to reduce turning to family physicians or emergency medicine units with to minor health problems.
In order to ensure quality and efficient use of resources, it is necessary to distinguish the competences of nurse and specialised nurse, nurse and care worker, doctor and nurse, as well as pharmacist, assistant pharmacist and nurse. In longer perspective, the health care workers have to improve their skills in providing remote care, as well as their digital, communications (how to forward messages, communicate with patients and colleagues, ground tensions) and consultations skills.