PrimCareIT provides support for remote primary healthcare

To counteract isolation of health professionals working in sparsely-populated areas from their peers and resulting brain-drain, the PrimCareIT project is promoting remote primary healthcare in the Baltic region via tele-consultation and tele-mentoring.

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" The results of PrimCareIT reflect pilot participants’ positive feelings about virtual communication methods. To them, tele-consultation and tele-mentoring have offered an opportunity for distance learning and enabled better communication and peer support at the workplace. All these together are steps to counteract professional isolation and brain drain. "

Sami Perälä, PrimCareIT Project Director

Tele-consultation enables communication between doctors of different disciplines or with specialists, while tele-mentoring is a form of virtual mentoring which supports career development and can be included in e-learning programmes.

PrimCareIT assessed regional needs and opportunities offered by tele-consultation and tele-mentoring, and examined barriers to their deployment. Based on this, the partners, including health workers, medical associations, hospitals, planning and financing authorities, regional administrations, and eHealth organisations, identified opportunities for better use of such systems.

The project developed tele-consultation solutions for remote primary care and implemented them at pilot sites. It also analysed existing e-learning practices and developed and tested new ones so as to deploy tele-mentoring programmes.

Implementation processes based on lessons learned

Using lessons from these pilots, the partners compiled implementation and running process reports. These set out procedures for overcoming obstacles and facilitated discussion and further activities aimed at large-scale deployment of tele-consultation and tele-mentoring.

A transnational workshop allowed partners to exchange experience, and data was gathered from pilot sites by interviews and document analysis. This led to compilation of a handbook, and common implementation guidelines identifying factors for successful remote primary care.

A final conference, at which results and their consequences for healthcare provision in rural areas were presented, was attended by over 120 health workers, academics and decision makers. It was summarised in a report underlining the role of eHealth in attracting health workers to primary care in remote areas, and containing over 20 written agreements by stakeholders for further promotion of eHealth. The project partners intend to continue work on deployment of solutions developed within PrimCareIT.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “PrimCare IT” is EUR 2 556 710, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 820 700 from the Operational Programme “Baltic Sea Region” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date