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MEDINF: Qualified medical advice on the phone becomes available in St. Petersburg and Pskov thanks to cross-border cooperation

On 6 – 7 June the final conference of the Project “Improving availability of medical information and counseling” (MEDINF) took place in Petergof, Russia. Health care specialists from St. Petersburg, Pskov, Kohtla-Jarve and Tallinn gathered to discuss the results of three years’ work. The Project was implemented within the ENPI Estonia-Latvia-Russia CBC Programme and came to excellent results. New solutions in the sphere of medical care introduced to the people of the bordering regions are inspiring and have great potential.

The project initiated three years ago united doctors, medical care officials, representatives of local authorities, insurance companies and health insurance offices of two neighbouring countries. For Russian partners the project work resulted in mastering of new models of telephone medical advice with the use of modern IT and communication technologies. In the opinion of St. Petersburg and Pskov Administrations, studying the experience of Estonian medical service opens new possibilities and perspectives to improve availability of medical service for the inhabitants of Russian partner cities.

Availability of high quality medical information and advice inspired and became the priority of the specialists of the Estonian Advice Centre some years ago. As a result a set of medical procedures as a base of new information service was worked out in Estonia. Now already for several years telephone of family therapist 1220 funded by Estonian Health Insurance Office helps the people in need of medical consultation and out of the reach of their family doctor.

It was MEDINF Project that made this new service available for the Russian-speaking inhabitants of the bordering regions of Estonia. Thanks to Russian partners of the Project medical procedures were translated from Estonian into Russian, and Estonian Advice Centre consults now in Russian too. Family therapist telephone 1220 can now as well be used by Russian tourists in Estonia. This service is highly appreciated by the tourists, as for them the need of medical advice had been before a serious problem because of the language barrier. Nowadays when number of tourists is constantly rising, development of such medical consultation procedures could become a good support for insurance organizations dealing with medical insurance of tourists.

The first pilot examples of medical advice on the telephone in North-West Russia are Call-Centres in Kolpino and Pskov. Three years of work of Russian specialists studying the experience of Estonian colleagues, training the stuff, equipping Call-Centres, translating and adapting consultation procedures resulted in consultation phones ring now in Medical Centre “World of Health” in Kolpino and at Medical Emergency Service Station in Pskov.

Practical approbation of the service was successful and many users appreciated its advantages. Emergency Service can be late because of heavy traffic in big cities and heavy workload of medical personnel. In such cases telephone medical advice service can’t be overestimated. Its medical consultants can advise what to do in case of emergency. The new service also helps to define the necessary medical specialist; that considerably shortens the time till appropriate medical help is given as time is always precious in emergency situations. The new service is very helpful for psychological support of elderly people and consultation of new mothers as well as inhabitants of small distant settlements. It is impossible to cure people by phone, but it is definitely possible to give qualified distant advice and help. This is proved by the results of work in testing regime in Medical Centre “World of Health”.

The Director of the Medical Centres “World of Health” N. Zarudneva has the opinion that “Cooperation with Estonian colleagues was very fruitful. The experience was absolutely new as there are no such organizations as Estonian Advice Centre in St. Petersburg and in Russia as a whole. We were interested to study new medical technologies and to try Estonian program. I consider this experience is very important for us. The service of medical consultation by phone will be, I think, highly demanded by state medical institutions and medical care officials as it  is able to improve the quality of medical services in St. Petyersburg. This new service gives people chance to get medical advice from specialists, but not from neighbours of doubtful internet forums”.

Information prepared by the Project.
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