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Videokonsultation Omvårdnad
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Specialists caring for patients through video

Published: 26 March 2015

Luleå University of Technology and healthcare in northern Sweden are the first in the country to use and research on video consultation between specialists and patients in rural areas. Instead of waiting up to 18 months of referral to a medical specialist the waiting time becomes shorter than one week.

- The results exceeded our expectations and health centers have chosen to continue with video consultation between patient and specialist, says Annette Johansson, who recently defended the subject Nursing at Luleå University of Technology.

Better service to patients

Skin diseases are a common reason for patients to seek treatment. With a focus on skin problems, Annette Johansson has researched how video consultation can increase accessibility to health care in rural areas, seen by patients, residents and health care personnels view.

Before the project started, she examined attitudes to use video consultation. Both patients and staff were skeptical about the technology, but after the experiment,the attitude had changed and the parties could see great benefits. Five healthcare centers were involved in the project and Annette Johansson has compiled reports from 174 video consultations. Only 15 percent of the video consultations resulted in a referral. The cause was difficulties getting a clear picture or medication with potent drug.

- Patients are the big winners, but also staff in health care and the environment take note of the positive impact, says Ms Johansson.

Advantages over disadvantages

A video consultation means that the patient at the health center meet a specialist via video link. With support från a district nurse and / or a district physician, the patient and the specialist have a conversation and show skin problems via a hand-held camera.

For the patient, this means two visits to the healthcare center to get a diagnosis and medication. This way, long journeys are not conducted, the environment is saved and the waiting time is shortened.

For healthcare staff, video consultation provides improved service to patients. In addition, it can often be easier to show symptoms in a picture rather than explain in a referral. District Nurses are the group that gets additional tasks. Most saw it as a desirable opportunity to bring equipment at home visits to patients for faster contact with the district doctor.

- Video consultation provides further education for health workers when they hear the specialist talk about different problems, ailments and treatments, says Annette Johansson.

Technology increases in health care

After the project has healthcare centers chosen to continue with video consultations and there is a will in Norrbotten County Council to use the technology even more.

An investigation has started to examine why the video consultations are not used by more healthcare centers.

- The use of technology is a part of the future and will increase more and more in the health care system, says Annette Johansson.

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