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Two-thirds of physicians blame e-health system for increased paperwork - survey

RIGA - About two-thirds of 67 percent of physicians in Latvia have to spend longer hours on paperwork with the introduction of the new-e-health system while only 16 percent said they were now spending less time working with different documents, according to a survey conducted among physicians about health care reforms and the new e-health system.

The Latvian Medical Association which ordered the survey said that just 16 percent of physicians had said they had not experienced any major functionality problems while working with the e-health system in the previous two weeks. At the same time, 16 percent encountered malfunctions in the system ten or more times during the two-week period, 3 percent had problems eight to nine times, 6 percent six to seven times, 14 percent four to five time, 26 percent two to three times and 15 percent once during the two-week period.

Moreover, patients have also been complaining about problems with getting their e-prescriptions filled at pharmacies due to malfunctions in the e-health system. As many as 33 percent of physicians said patients had complained to them four or more times, 26 percent said they had heard such complaints from patients one to three times but 27 percent of physicians said they had not received any complaints from patients about the functionality of the e-health system.

The survey confirmed the allegations by physicians that issuing e-prescriptions via the e-health system takes too much time. Most or 51 percent of physicians said that issuing an e-prescription took them longer than writing a paper prescription, 28 percent said issuing e-prescriptions was faster than writing a prescription on a paper form and 18 percent said it took them equally long time to issue an e-prescription or a paper prescription.

The physicians also criticized the e-prescription and e-sick note forms included in the e-health system as illogical and obscure with 48 percent being critical of the e-prescription form and 37 percent being displeased with the e-sick note form.

Only 6 percent of the physicians admitted their computer skills were poor or very poor, 32 percent said their skills were mediocre and 60 percent boasted good or excellent computer literacy while for 2 percent it was difficult to rate their computer skills.

According to the survey, 66 percent of physicians in Latvia operate the new e-health system. Of them, 66 percent operate the e-health system every workday, 15 percent three or four times a week, and the rest - one to two times a week or even less frequently.

As many as 57 percent of physicians had turned to the National Health Service in relation to the e-health system, and of them 54 percent said the support they had received had been good or excellent, 31 percent said it had been mediocre, and 13 percent said the support had been poor or very poor.

The SKDS pollster carried out the survey for the Latvian Medical Association in late May and early June this year among 2,944 physicians.

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