Investigations in Primary Care – this Years’ IT in Society Project

I am one of the faculty scaffolding students in the course “IT in Society”. I work together with Cary Laxer, Anne Peters and Mats Daniels on the course. This is a course where students work on a joint project together with Region Uppsala. Region Uppsala is a politically managed organization responsible for health, public transport, culture, and regional development issues. According to their web they work with the county’s municipalities, colleges, business and other actors to create the best conditions for us as residents. The Region comes up with a burning hot topic for the students to investigate, and this year they have chosen primary care.

Primary care in Sweden has quite an awful situation, and there are lots of people who quit their jobs and move to other part of health care. This results in an even worse situation for those who stay in primary care who for example get more patients, and the costs for hiring temporary staff is alarming. The number of patients increase every year due to an ageing population that live longer with multiple kinds of deceases. Turnaround of staff in primary care makes patients meet different doctors more often than the same doctor when needing care. Also they experience that primary care cannot offer an appointment quick enough when you are ill. This also results in a new market for digital doctors where patients can get an appointment using for example their iPad and a video meeting. These appointments are easy to get, and often within 30-45 min you get to meet a doctor and at the same cost as going to a primary care unit. However, studies have shown that the digital doctors get to meet patients that want advise of a kind that you traditionally in Sweden do not see a doctor for getting. This Has lead to enormous costs for society, but at the same time to patients thinking that they get good service.

My team in the IT in Society course this year are looking into the situation for frequent patients and primary care. This means people who frequently have the role to be patients and who have for example a chronicle condition such as diabetes. Often these people are older, as in the picture in the blog post, and many are not very prone to use technology but prefer people. In this they are investigating connected health as a phenomenon, and clinical support systems from the perspective of shared decision making. I am really enjoying the project this year, and most of the students are really brilliant and work hard.

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