Use of e-health in Dutch GP practices continues to grow

Monday, June 24, 2024

In 2023, more than three quarters of Dutch GP practices used e-health applications such as e-consultations, online requesting of repeat prescriptions, teleconsultations and online scheduling of appointments. This is one of the conclusions of the Nivel survey among GP practices on the use of digital care in the Netherlands in 2023. The use of digital care applications in GP practices has increased compared to 2022 and continues to increase. The greatest growth can be seen in larger practices (forms) and practices that are affiliated with an umbrella organisation.

Digital care is considered one of the ways to keep high-quality care affordable and accessible. That is why Nivel has been investigating which digital applications Dutch GP’s use and whether they expect this to change in the future through the annual Nivel Practice Survey on GP Care since 2020. Since 2022, questions have also been asked about the frequency of use of the applications. For the 2023 survey, Nivel, between 2 November and 10 December 2023, sent a survey to almost all of the 4,800+ GP practices in the Netherlands. 406 of those practices completed the survey. The survey asked about the use of e-consultations, teleconsultations, video calling, appointments, telemonitoring, repeat prescriptions and digital mental health care.

E-consultation most used

All participating GP practices indicated that they use at least one digital care application in their practice. 90% even use four or more digital applications. The use of the e-consultation, the online request for repeat prescriptions and the teleconsultation in particular, increased sharply in 2023. These digital applications are now used by almost every GP practice.

The e-consultation is used daily by almost all practices. Teleconsultation, telemonitoring and digital mental health care are used more on a weekly basis. A large majority of practices also offer patients the option to schedule an appointment online. Video calling is used by fewer practices and when practices use it, it is often monthly or only a few times a year.

Less digital care in smaller practices

The use of the seven digital applications studied varies from practice to practice. In general, it appears that practices with fewer patients use less digital care than larger practices. The use of digital care is also less in solo practices than in group practices. The use of e-consultation, teleconsultation and online prescription requests is almost the same between practices with different practice sizes.

Research by the Department of General Practice at Maastricht University shows that it is unclear how effective digital applications are in general practice. It is unclear, among other things, whether the digital care applications studied reduce the workload in general practice. However, general practitioners do see the possibilities that digital care can offer and are generally positive about it. The editorial board of ICT&health received several responses to this research, which have been added at the beginning of the news article.