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Denmark uses digital patient questionnaires to improve medical care

Can the patient’s perception of the disease be part of the treatment?

In Denmark, this approach is a reality. Euronews explored how this became possible.

Hanne Dalgaard Christensen is a 57-year-old Danish retiree. She stopped working due to a serious intestinal illness and has had to undergo regular check-ups ever since.

Through the Patient Reported Outcome questionnaire, she can inform the hospital of any progress in her illness, thereby improving her knowledge of her own health and improving the efficiency of the next consultation.

“It’s very useful, because when I go to the doctor, I often forget to tell him certain details. But there, you have to fill out a questionnaire before the consultation. So you have time to think about everything, and the doctor will have answers to questions that may arise during each visit,” says Hanne.

How can PRO improve patient care?

Let’s take a closer look at the patient-reported results (or PROs). This online questionnaire was introduced in the Danish healthcare system, first for neurology and later extended to other medical fields. It includes questions about specific symptoms, quality of life, and daily activities.

This initiative allows for greater patient involvement and improves their knowledge of their condition, while healthcare professionals obtain first-hand information to help them refine their therapeutic approach.

At the University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark, this online service is mainly used for cases of chronic illnesses, which usually require regular check-ups.

“PRO is a brilliant way to get an overview of a patient’s symptoms before we see them in the outpatient clinic. When we see the patient in the clinic, we already have a lot of answers and then we know what to focus on: whether there are any symptoms related to this chronic disease or whether we need to change their medical treatment,” says Dr. Mette Julsgaard, gastroenterologist at Aarhus University Hospital.

Is eHealth spreading across Europe?

This approach, which relies heavily on the collection and sharing of medical information, is an example to follow for the future European Health Data Area, which will give a cross-border dimension to this type of method.

Another feature of the Danish initiative is that artificial intelligence is used to carry out an initial filtering of information.

Lisbeth Kallestrup, Director of Quality and Patient Engagement at Aarhus University Hospital, explains how the system works for them.

“The questionnaires are processed with an algorithm that is programmed to filter patient needs and patient care emergencies. For example, in the first category, the patient is fine and we do not need to speak with or see the patient. Then there is the “yellow” category, where we will see if we have to call for the patient. Finally we have the “red” category and there we have to see the patient.”

PRO is a useful tool for regularly monitoring patients with chronic diseases, and allows doctors to be more responsive even before the scheduled consultation. It allows physicians to prioritize relevant patients who need to be seen.

At a time when the sharing of medical information is a crucial issue for our healthcare systems, patients have more say than ever in helping the medical industry create products and services adapted to their experience.

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