Published: 2022-01-26 15:23 | Updated: 2022-02-07 10:17

Telemedicine in primary healthcare during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctor next to cellphone with medical symbols.
Telemedicine consultation. Photo: Pixabay

Researchers from LIME have recently published two reports for Region Stockholm in which they investigate the use of telemedicine in primary healthcare during first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of telemedicine in primary healthcare

Cecilia Dahlgren, Fanny Goude, Matilda Hagman and Sofia Sveréus from the Health Economics and Policy Research Group at LIME have recently published two reports for Region Stockholm in which they investigate the use of telemedicine in primary healthcare during first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, using linked registry data from Region Stockholm, Region Sörmland, Region Jönköping and Statistics Sweden.

Pandemic served as a catalyst

The results show that the pandemic served as a catalyst for telemedicine consultations in primary healthcare. The number of telemedicine consultations increased dramatically during the first wave of the pandemic, while the number of face-to-face consultations simultaneously decreased. However, the use of telemedicine was unevenly distributed across age groups. Older individuals, who had the largest decrease in face-to-face consultations, had the lowest use of telemedicine. Contrarily, individuals in the age group 19-25 years increased their use of telemedicine consultations to the extent that their total number of primary healthcare consultations was higher in 2020 than in 2018.

The results further reveal differences between face-to-face consultations and telemedicine consultations regarding diagnoses and socioeconomic profile of the users. Diagnoses treated in telemedicine consultations differed substantially from those treated in face-to-face consultations. and individuals who were highly educated, had higher income, or were Swedish-born used telemedicine consultations to a larger extent than other groups. These socioeconomic differences however diminished somewhat since 2018.

Read the reports (in Swedish only):

Konsumtionsvolymer och diagnospanorama för digitala och fysiska besök i primärvården under covid-19-pandemin

Konsumtion av digitala och fysiska besök i primärvården för olika grupper i befolkningen under covid-19-pandemin

Health Economics and Policy

The group conducts research on how resources are used to contribute to effective care and health improvements.

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