Only one in ten doctors plan to go abroad

One in two citizens of Serbia is satisfied with the quality of services in state healthcare institutions, and the main problems they highlight are poor organization, lack of staff and insufficient motivation of healthcare workers. This was shown by NALED's new survey on the satisfaction of citizens and doctors with the public health system, which was presented today, and the findings will help in the further process of digitizing services and achieving greater efficiency.

One in two respondents pointed out that they have no problem scheduling an examination and arriving at the doctor's office in a maximum of one month. However, 37% of patients, in the last three years, did not have their turn for intervention, because they urgently needed the service and could not wait or there was no appointment at all.

Doctors point out that they devote up to 40% of their working time to medical documentation, which is mostly kept on paper. From digitalization, they expect to receive a unique eHealthRecord of the patient with a history of the disease and the networking of institutions at all three levels of health care for a more efficient flow of information.

As the best aspects of the system, doctors cite the dedication to their work and the expertise of medical workers. Among the biggest problems, on the other hand, they recognize staff overload and low wages, as well as too much paperwork. It is positive that only one in ten plans to go abroad in the next five years, slightly less than half (45%) want to continue working exclusively in the state system, while a quarter would work in private practice at the same time.

Minister of Health Prof. Dr. Danica Grujičić assessed the results of NALED's research as objective and stated that better organization of work, less time wasted on paperwork, faster scheduling of examinations, and especially equipment procurement and salary increase, are priorities for strengthening and improving the system.

- The expertise and dedication of our doctors and health workers are recognized by patients as the strongest asset, and I am also pleased that most of my colleagues plan to stay in Serbia, in state institutions. The digitization we are implementing improves efficiency, that's why I encourage both citizens and doctors to use digital services and systems, and we will try to improve communication with the profession and citizens about the needs they have in healthcare - Minister Grujičić said.

The survey on the satisfaction of citizens and doctors with state healthcare was conducted by NALED and Ipsos, with the support of the eHealth project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides support for the digitalization and improvement of the healthcare environment in more than 20 countries around the world, among which includes Serbia.

- When we talk about all the ambitious efforts undertaken by the Government of Serbia in the way of digital transformation of public services, and especially when it comes to the health sector, we are aware that technology is only one of the components for success. What is even more important is that the processes change, and in this very important role is played by people that take part in the healthcare system, namely service providers and citizens themselves - stated the Director of the eHealth project, Steve Ollis.

The research showed that citizens are insufficiently informed about electronic services in healthcare. Services such as eHealthcare and My RHIF were used by less than a fifth of the respondents, while the most familiar and satisfied with the ePrescription service. Nevertheless, about three quarters of citizens believe that the further process of digitization is useful and that it is most necessary to work on better informing the public about the existence and advantages of electronic services.

NALED's Program Director Jelena Bojović said that the priorities of NALED and its Healthcare Alliance coincide with the views of citizens and doctors and that apart from the development of a single electronic medical record, a key step in the digitalization of the system will be the connection of all institutions and specialist doctors.

- Our proposal is to enable doctors in the private sector to open sick leave for patients, as well as to introduce the eSickLeave service, so that citizens do not have to go to a health facility when they are sick. We want to support the relevant ministry in the introduction of eReferrals, so that specialist doctors can issue referrals for further treatment, which would save citizens from going back to their chosen doctor, and the introduction of ePrescriptions for all groups of drugs will be equally important - concluded Bojović.

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