Digitization does not reduce the workload of GPs

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Although the majority of them are positive about digital care in general practice, digital care applications do not reduce the workload of GPs. This has emerged from research by means of a literature study, focus groups and questionnaires by the Department of General Practice at the University of Maastricht. It was commissioned by the Ministry of VWS, NHG, LHV and InEen.

No evidence

The researchers, led by GPs Prof. Dr. Jochen Cals and Dr. Lennart van der Burg, also found no evidence that the four digital healthcare applications studied – e-consultation, video consultation, telemonitoring and digital self-triage – can be a solution to the staff shortages. in primary care. Nor did they find evidence for the cost-effectiveness of using these digital tools.

They believe that digital healthcare applications should be used in a tailor-made manner in general practitioner care. And that will always have to be a consideration that the GP makes together with the patient, because it seems that the forms of digitization studied do not lead to an improvement in the quality of care for everyone. In fact, they can even increase the health differences between patient groups.


The researchers also discuss the confusion surrounding the terms e-health and digital care, which are often used interchangeably in the literature. Yet these are not synonyms, they say. E-health is about the application of both digital information and communication to support health and care. Digital care requires a treatment relationship (e.g. between doctor and patient) and that a care service is provided. That is why Thuisarts.nl is a form of e-health, but not digital care, because there is no treatment relationship.

Multiple guidelines

They call the fact that GPs ask for guidelines and guidelines for the use of digital healthcare applications in general practice ‘remarkable’, because several guidelines are available. For example, the NHG, the LHV and Nictiz have developed the Handbook e-consultation, the KNMG has developed a manual for video consultations in healthcare, and the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate has a testing framework for ‘Telemonitoring adults at home’. These guidelines should be better brought to the attention of the professional group, preferably in a central – indeed: digital – place.

National government: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2023/03/15/onderzoek-naar-de-effectivity-van-digitale-zorgtarieven-in-de-huisartsenzorg

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