Family Medicine

Hereby, the main results of an applied research study in the healthcare sector, focusing on family medicine, are presented.

The aim of the researchers was to identify the workforce and skill needs for family medicine over the next ten years. A central question was how to best cope with the disproportionately high replacement demand for family doctors, given the lengthy professional training and highly regulated nature of the field. An additional goal was to provide recommendations on how to meet the changing workforce demands, including proposing alternative ways to meet service needs under conditions of limited labor resources.

The main results

  • Considering the average number of patients per list, it is likely that about 385,000 people are currently on the lists of family doctors who are of retirement age (30% of practicing family doctors, approximately 260 out of 860).
  • The number of graduates in family medicine does not cover the need to replace family doctors who are retiring due to age, inevitably leading to a shortage of qualified workforce to maintain the current family healthcare system.
  • The restructuring of work processes based on the networks of practices and experimenting with new operating models, along with minor organizational changes, are inevitable under the conditions of a declining medical workforce. Shifts in the employment structure and the distribution of work tasks are also necessary.
  • The potential for enhancing work processes through digital solutions is underutilized in family medical practices. Wider use of standardized digital solutions that support information processing would allow healthcare workers to use their work time more efficiently.
  • To improve the treatment results and ensure smoother patient transitions in a patient-centered healthcare system, the collaboration between family medicine and specialist care needs to be enhanced and made more collegial.

Key findings

OSKA family medicine study in Estonian