The development reflects a growing breakthrough for digital health services, says the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting, SKL).
On January 1st, company Doktor.se will take over a health centre in the Vingåker municipality, after which both physical and digital consultations will be offered to patients throughout the country, writes TT.
The entitlement of patients in Sweden to choose where they receive treatment under the country’s public healthcare system means the service will be available regardless of where they live in Sweden.
With primary care free of patient fees in Södermanland county, and the patient fee for digital care visits determined by the county in which the operating company is located, Doktor.se can offer digital consultations without charge, reports Dagens Medicin.
“When Sörmland [an alternative name for Södermanland, ed.] took the decision to offer free primary care, it was not based on the expectation that digital services would appear,” economist Annika Wallenskog of SKL told TT.
Doktor.se’s CEO Martin Lindman confirmed to Dagens Medicin that the heathcare firm would offer services to patients throughout the country.
Prior to receiving a digital visit, patients will consult a nurse who will assess their needs. Those not suitable for digital consultations will be advised to seek physical primary care.
Competitors to Doktor.se in counties where patients pay a fee receive smaller payments from county councils for providing healthcare. For example, the Min Doktor and Kry companies are based in Jönköping, where patients pay a 250 kronor consultation fee. That means that regional authorities must pay 400 kronor to the providing companies for each digital consultation. In Södermanland, the county must pay the full 650 kronor, writes Dagens Medicin.
Wallenskog said she had expected an online service to be established in a county with free primary care. An SKL task group will now look into the expected financial consequences of the development before county council directors meet to discuss the issue in a few weeks’ time.