Digital appointments with doctors trialled in Sweden

A region in central Sweden has turned to technological innovation in an attempt to battle lengthy waiting times to see doctors as it becomes the first area in the country to offer digital appointments with GPs.

Digital appointments with doctors trialled in Sweden
An image of someone using the digital doctor service. Photo: KRY

Värmland county council is the first in the country to pilot digital healthcare for its citizens, who can now choose to have online appointments with a doctor instead of going through the often long-winded process of doing so physically.

The pilot project is being carried out in partnership with Swedish health start-up KRY, who developed the technology, and it was launched across the county on Monday.

“The appointment takes place via smartphone, computer or tablet. All you need to do is download the app and log in securely. After that you can fill in your symptoms, upload any pictures and either book an appointment or take a drop-in slot if it’s available,” Sofia Kacim from KRY told The Local.

Sweden has been criticized for its long waiting times in the past, and in the latest edition of the Euro Health Consumer Index it was ranked alongside Ireland as having the poorest healthcare accessibility in Europe. The claim is that the new pilot project's average digital waiting time is only eight minutes, by contrast.

“Our ambition is that you will always be minutes away from an appointment with a doctor, and for the first time patients in Sweden have that possibility. At physical health centers it can take from one to seven days to get a time with a doctor,” KRY’s Kacim noted.

The doctors staffing the service come from across Sweden and even abroad, and the hope is that it can help to free up resources for those who require a physical appointment.

“The doctors patients will meet are Swedish doctors: doctors who are working across Sweden and even across the world. We can therefore use and distribute resources from one area to another, and as a result increase general availability,” Kacim said.

A digital appointment costs 200 kronor ($22), the same fee as the one paid for standard physical appointments with doctors in Sweden. If necessary, patients can be referred forward for further consultation, given advice on how to treat an ailment, and even have medicine prescribed to them. Doctors will even be available digitally during evenings and weekend.