Press release. Survey: residents more satisfied with Estonian health system


Today, the research firm GfK Custom Research Baltic presented its survey “Residents’ assessment of health and medical care 2012”, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Insurance Fund. The aspects of the health care organisation that people were the most satisfied with were the system of family physicians, the good attitude and friendliness of the doctors, the availability of health care, and digital prescriptions.   Assessments on the organisation of health care improved by 5% in comparison with the previous year, with 67% of the population satisfied or quite satisfied with it. Those seeing the quality of medical care as good or quite good made up 80%, the highest percentage of all time. Availability assessments were somewhat lower than those of the organisation and quality of health care – availability was seen as good or quite good by 55% of the population (51% in 2011).   The Minister of Social Affairs Taavi Rõivas pointed out the residents’ positive assessment regarding the work of family physicians and nurses and the family physician system as a whole. “We will continue to contribute to strengthening first contact care. At the beginning of this year, the option of hiring a second family nurse was added; this aims at reinforcing the family physician’s team and offering even better care to the patient,” Rõivas said. The Minister of Social Affairs also encouraged people to call the family physicians’ advice line 1220 in case of minor health problems. “The survey shows that this option is rarely used, although professional advice is just a phone call away. People should definitely dial this number more often, and to an extent this would also help to reduce the workload of emergency medicine departments.”   Based on their last contact, people rate the work of all health care professionals highly. Last year, 72% of the population turned to a doctor with a health problem. While most saw their family physician, 38% went to a medical specialist. The number of respondents for whom the interval between making an appointment with a medical specialist and the appointment date was longer than two months grew.   “The residents’ biggest health system-related concern is the treatment queues,“ said Chairman of the Management Board of the Health Insurance Fund Tanel Ross. „Although we have taken systemic action to reduce treatment queues, it still remains an important topic for us. The Health Insurance Fund has continually increased the number of out-patient and in-patient cases in order to improve accessibility, while the number of consultations by both family physicians and medical specialists keeps growing year by year. This year, a new system for monitoring treatment queues will be implemented, providing a better overview of the actual waiting times as well as the opportunity to plan service volumes more accurately. Furthermore, the queues for several major surgeries – such as endoprostheses for large joints, ENT surgery, long-term care etc. – will be shortened significantly this year. The nation-wide digital registry that the residents expressed a wish for would certainly help to even out the length of treatment queues,” Ross added.   The number of people who were able to choose a cheaper version of a medicinal product when buying prescription medicine at a pharmacy during the past 12 months increased significantly compared to 2011.   “Expenditures on medicinal products make up a large part of the patients’ cost-sharing. In recent years, we have made several decisions designed to decrease the cost-sharing,” said the Minister of Social Affairs Taavi Rõivas. “Compared to 2009, medicinal products are 9% cheaper on average and people’s cost-sharing upon buying medicinal products has fallen by a whopping 22%,” the Minister of Social Affairs added. In addition to the organisation of the digital prescription, people were also asked to assess their satisfaction with the process of the last purchase they made using a digital prescription. 85% of the residents expressed their satisfaction.   The aim of the annual survey commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Insurance Fund is to get an overview of the population’s assessment on their health, the medical aid provided in Estonia, and the level of satisfaction with the organisation of health care, as well as the accessibility and quality of health services. This year, GfK Custom Research Baltic conducted oral interviews with 1,501 people between the ages of 15 and 74 from 15 November to 9 December 2012.   A report on the survey is available on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs or the Health Insurance Fund