Use of e-health in Norwegian primary health care during the Covid-19 pandemic
Request by the WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care, Almaty, Kazakhstan: Collect experiences and best practices and write a Country vignette of Norway (short report) about the use of e-health in primary health care during the Covid-19 pandemic. Production of report takes place from March to June of 2021, in close collaboration with WHO Europe.
Primary health care will play an important role at the WHO Europe 71st session of the Regional Committee (RC) held in September 2021. The WHO European Centre for Primary Health Care is preparing for the PHC session on RC71 “Realizing the potential of primary health care: lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic in the WHO European Region”. The session's objective is to inspire countries to prioritize primary health care as the nexus of simultaneously moving towards universal health coverage, achieving health security, and improving health and well-being.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new context and revealed long-standing weaknesses in health system organization and public health and primary health care. Several countries have taken the opportunity of the crisis to accelerate long-term reforms and strengthen primary health care. The emerging success stories show promising approaches to strengthen primary health care and health systems post-pandemic.
To facilitate learning and experience exchanges across Europe, WHO will produce a series of country vignettes of transforming primary health care and spearheading a dual-track health system response to the pandemic. The short reports will demonstrate country experiences using the pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate long-standing policies and reforms trends such as multi-disciplinary care, mobile outreach, task shifting, digital solutions.
Each country vignette will follow a common structure, including:
- describing instruments and policies
- sustainability prospects
- how these instruments fared during the COVID-19 pandemic and were adjusted
- lessons learnt for other countries
The vignette will be published online, followed by a story published on EURO social media, and captured for RC71 visual and poster presentation.
Data collection for the Norwegian vignette:
- Mapping of research and knowledge environments and ongoing projects, including contacting national health authorities.
- Search databases with scientific publications.
- Internet-based search and query in key research and knowledge environment to identify relevant projects.
- Document analysis.
- Possible interview with GP, to collect patient experiences after using video consultation with the doctor.
1. Technical solutions and information technology infrastructure were in place before the pandemic and made it easy for most general practitioners and other health personnel to adapt to a new situation in which they could not meet patients in person.
2. A survey of health literacy in Norway shows that a significant proportion of the population has challenges in dealing with health information.
3. There is a need to enhance data collection and knowledge-sharing and give access to real-time data and analysis. Surveillance systems should be digitalized.
4. Nursing homes used technologies already available, such as tablets, to facilitate communication and reduce the risk of isolation between residents and relatives when physical visits were not possible.
5. Primary care services in Norway are lagging behind specialist health care in research and innovation, according to a report in 2019. There is not enough knowledge about how to improve quality and effectiveness in the primary care sector.
6. According to the Norwegian Medical Association, citizen services needed to be rapidly digitalized during the pandemic. The challenges have been in the municipalities with administration and information technology infrastructure because of registries based on old technology and a lack of digital solutions in municipal infection control measures and the testing, isolation, infection tracing and quarantine strategy.
7. Early in the lockdown, the health authorities published a list of digital solutions already in use within health care and recommended using these. It includes video tools that can be integrated with the Helsenorge.no portal and other independent solutions.