Dear Neil and HIFA colleagues,
Thanks for starting this important and timely discussion.
From many webinars and online conferences that I have 'attended' in the last months I have learnt how important and complex is this problem everywhere. Here are some aspects of the problem that were similar in many countries:
- initially so much attention and resources were devoted to respond to COVID-19 that decision- and policy-makers were not looking for solutions on how to maintain essential health services;
- health care professionals were desperately searching for information on what was better (less risk) for their patients (with chronic conditions) - to postpone treatment and diagnostic procedures and keep them from health care system, or to continue providing those services under new circumstances - and in many cases there was no such evidence available;
- patients were not sure if it was more reasonable to avoid 'contact' with health care system or not.
From my limited experience as a patient here in Croatia I might say that we are able to use without 'contact' some services that were established before - for example, we do not need to visit a GP office to renew a prescription (that could be done online or by phone).
But when changers in the system were needed - that took really a long time. Only a couple of weeks ago they have organized a centralized national information service for oncological patients who were not able to get on time therapy or diagnostic procedures due to disruptions in hospital service delivery (as some hospitals were reorganized to treat only COVID-related cases).
So it is really important to share experience from different countries and regions to find most effective solutions.
Irina Ibraghimova, PhD
HIFA country representative for Croatia
Editor, International Journal of Health Governance
HIFA profile: Irina Ibraghimova is a medical librarian, based in Croatia, and works with health care professionals in the countries of the Former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa. Her interests include evidence-based practice (both in health care and in library/informatics field). www.lrcnetwork.org www.healthconnect-intl.org She is a HIFA country representative for Croatia: https://www.hifa.org/support/members/irina Email: ibra AT zadar.net