TALLINN - The option to book an appointment with a doctor online has been used on over 113,000 occasions over the past two years and altogether 100 health care institutions across Estonia have joined the service to date.
Tonis Jaagus, head of the health division at the Estonian Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK), said that the number of new subscribers to the service has risen compared with last year.
"The current situation has definitely boosted medical institutions' efforts towards increasing their digital capabilities because it is in the interest of both doctors and patients that the latter should not need to call various hospitals to book an appointment, or worse yet, personally go to the reception desk. This should be done digitally and Estonia created this option for health care institutions already at the start of 2019, when the North Estonia Medical Center was the first one to join the digital booking system," he said.
While new joiners in the system numbered 33 last year, the corresponding figure this year is 67, according to Jaagus.
The largest number of health care institutions have joined the national e-booking system in Harju, Tartu and East-Viru counties, where respectively 40, 16 and 11 institutions have subscribed to the service. Broken down by areas, new joiners are most numerous among providers of specialized medical care, hospital and dental care services.
Country-wide coverage would be ensured when health care institutions that have joined the system numbered 300; that way people would be able to book the earliest appointment available in just a few clicks, Jaagus noted.
"The fact is that people often don't know how to search available times as the first available appointment may be in a neighboring county instead, and calling [that institution] simply doesn't occur to people. As speed is ordinarily an important factor when it comes to getting help, in this regard, a national digital booking system is undoubtedly a very good solution," he said.
The national e-booking system enables for patients to see a list of all available appointment times in health care institutions that have joined the system and book an appointment without having to communicate with various service providers' reception desks and staff.
The system also allows to quickly and conveniently change and cancel appointments, helping to reduce confusion and shorten waiting lists. All health care institutions, including private ones, can join the system.