At today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, deliberation of the matter of significant national importance “How to shorten the treatment waiting lists” was held. The speakers pointed out that, in order to shorten treatment waiting lists, it was necessary to strengthen the primary level, to grow trust in family physicians and, in particular by using e-solutions, to improve communication between various service providers.
In her report, Karmen Joller, member of the Board of the Estonian Primary Care Association, family physician at Kivimäe Family Health Centre, said that family physicians and family nurses were top specialists in their field who were able to provide very good and high quality assistance in practically every specialty. She pointed out however that, in order to do that, it was necessary to have time to go into the problems of the people. In her words, time would be gained by employing support personnel and using better software. Joller also pointed out that, as the population was ageing and family physicians took on increasingly more tasks, the practice lists of family physicians were too long. Therefore, Joller said, it was important to train more doctors and family nurses and to strengthen the primary level.
Katrin Kaarma, member of the Management Board of the Viljandi Hospital Foundation, psychiatrist, spoke of the development and piloting of an integrated services model at Viljandi Hospital. Kaarma drew attention to the fact that the specialised medical care costs rose steeply in 70-80 year olds, and this age group should be kept in mind in order to reduce treatment waiting lists. In her words, the aim of the project is to develop a software through which different service providers like family physician, hospital doctor and social worker could obtain information on the patient and communicate with each other, so that they would be in a single information field, the system would be more flexible and the patient would receive treatment from the right place.
In his report, Tõnu Esko, Vice Director of the Estonian Genome Centre, Senior Research Fellow of population and functional genomics, focused on the use of digital solutions in healthcare. He noted that it would be useful to use information on genetic material in prescribing medicinal products and in research and screening. In his words, this would help achieve personal disease prevention, smart screening and more efficient use of resources. If the data moving between databases were more available, algorithms could use the information gathered more effectively, Esko said. For example, doctors could receive notifications when a patient does not buy a medicine prescribed to him or her, and the genetic suitability of medicines could be indicated on digital prescriptions.
The Minister of Health and Labour Riina Sikkut said that at present the gap in the life expectancy and healthy life years of men and women was nine years. However, the state has set the target for life expectancy to reach 84 years in women and 78 years in men by 2020, and the gap would thus be reduced to six years. A target has been set to increase male healthy life expectancy by 7.7 years. In order to meet the targets, in Sikkut’s words, it is necessary to begin by educating children, so that they would know what healthy lifestyle is and what they can do for their health themselves. In the event that help is needed, family physician should be consulted first. Therefore, in the minister’s words, it is necessary to strengthen the family doctor system, improve e-solutions and bring additional funds into healthcare.
During the debate, Marika Tuus-Laul (Centre Party), Helmen Kütt (Social Democratic Party), Priit Sibul (Isamaa), Krista Aru (Estonian Free Party), Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) and Monika Haukanõmm took the floor.
The sitting ended at 1.05 p.m.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
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