Keywords: E-Health, Telemedicine, Nursing Homes, General Practice
The German health care system is facing a sizable challenge in the near future. Currently, almost one million care recipients are living in nursing homes. There is a shortage on caregivers and General Practitioners (GPs).
This study investigates basic information on communication routines and difficulties as well as GP’s perspectives on E-health-technologies in patient care in nursing homes.
A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study, carried out among n=600 randomly selected GPs in Germany sent by mail.
The response rate was 19.8% (n=114). The respondent’s mean age was 53 years (min=35; max:0=77), two thirds were women (65.1%). GPs commonly use fax (92.3%) and telephone (86.5%) to communicate with nursing homes. Less than 10% routinely use E-mail (6.2%), E-health software (5.3%) or chat-services (0.9%). About half of GPs regard unnecessary (52.3%) or unspecific (50.5%) nursing home visit requests as well as medication plan changes by other physicians (51.4%) as a common but evitable problem. Many GPs want to use E-medication plans (84.6%), E-follow-up prescriptions (78.8%) and E-letters of referral (69.2%) in the future. 32.7% of GPs already have fully digitalized patient files. Only 8.7% work exclusively paper-based.
Though GPs are open for digitalized communication with nursing homes, fax and telephone are still mostly used. GPs prefer to execute less complex tasks digitally, like change of medication plans and letters of referral. Fewer can imagine digital solutions for complex procedures like acute health problems and ward rounds. Only 7.6% do not want to work digitally at all.
Points for discussion:
E-Health technologies in nursing home/ GP context - what are the facilitators and barriers to improve patient care?
E-Health technologies in nursing home/ GP context in Europe - what are the medical indications are what is the benefit for patients?
E-Health-based monitoring in nursing homes - what is the specific benefit for patients