Report on expert interviews - Abstract

The report on the expert interviews carried out in the seven project partner countries is part of the theoretical background of the PrimCareIT project, which aims at raising attractiveness of remote primary health care for medical professionals. The aim of the expert interviews is to further elaborate on the topics of PrimCareIT in Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden. In each country the study coordinators conducted expert interviews with a target of ten experts, including GPs as well as representatives of health care institutions. All interviews were semistructured and based on the same interview guide in every country to answer project relevant questions regarding brain drain, professional isolation, tele-consultation and tele-mentoring.

The findings from the expert interviews were compared among each other and with the findings from the literature review that had been done by the PrimCareIT partners preceding the expert interviews. The literature review had revealed that especially topics such as the effects of brain drain and professional isolation on the health care system or the weighting of factors leading to brain drain have not been considered in most of the countries.

The interviews showed that the characteristics of brain drain and professional isolation are on different levels, as well as the prevalence of tele-consultation and tele-mentoring differs between the countries. The factors and effects of brain drain and professional isolation are diverse but similar in all countries. The mostly named factors for professional isolation included the own personality of the health care workers, the arrangement of the health care systems or the geographical isolation, when working in rural areas as well as financial problems, heavy work loads, a lack of team work and difficulties in participating in trainings. Among the main factors for brain drain were differences in salaries, poor attitudes of the society towards health care workers and better social conditions in urban compared to rural areas. The effects named of brain drain and professional isolation were an increase of dissatisfaction and negative attitudes towards the health care system as well as a decrease in medical care accessibility and quality. The most important solutions counter-acting brain drain and professional isolation were seen in higher funding for primary care, adequate work pay ratios and better employment opportunities as well as in additional support especially in rural areas. Tele-mentoring and tele-consultation experience among the medical professionals ranged from using tele-consultation and tele-mentoring already to not having used any telemedicine at all until today. Therefore, the results differ a lot concerning tele-consultation and tele-mentoring, although they are seen as positive solutions in all countries by most experts.

Since most of the topics are still not that widely studied, further research will be necessary, following this study. Therefore, a focus group will be organised in February 2013 to further elaborate on information regarding the usage of tele-consultation and tele-mentoring to counter-act brain drain and professional isolation in the partner countries. The target groups of this output are all project partners from work packages and general public interested in the project as well as politicians and other stakeholders. 

For more information, contact Prof Bosco Lehr, Flensburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

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