Photo: Minudoc/Estonian World
Estonia opens the first virtual clinic suited for expats
Minudoc, launched in Estonia, is a new telemedical service that ensures a convenient doctor’s appointment is never more than a video call away.
Like in many countries, access to your GP is becoming harder and harder. Oftentimes you have to wait a few days for an appointment, with some people even opting for a visit to the emergency room to beat the queue. Minudoc is on a mission to make health care more people-focused, to offer quality, convenient, efficient and affordable primary and secondary care to patients.
“62% of Estonians are dissatisfied with access to the health-care system,” Tarmo Pihl, the CEO of Sentab Estonia, says. “It’s difficult to get an appointment with your GP, even more so with a secondary care specialist when you need it, so many people resort to visits to the emergency room for things that could often be treated with a quick remote consultation from the comfort of your own home.” It’s not only about the quick response, but it also saves travel time for patients travelling to and from the emergency room.
Flexible multilingual platform
Minudoc offers patients flexibility, by allowing appointments to be scheduled when they are needed, without having to travel long distances or wait days to solve minor problems. Medical consultations are available during off-hours until 10:00 PM and at weekends, which also helps alleviate the strain on emergency rooms. In an ideal situation, patients should find a GP within an hour, or a secondary care specialist within 24 hours.
How does it work? A patient chooses the type of doctor they would like to visit. At the moment one can book appointments with GPs, psychologists, physiotherapists, paediatricians, midwives, gynaecologists and nutritionists. Patients need to log in using their Estonian ID card, SmartID or mobile ID. This gives consent to the doctor to access the patient’s online medical records. With this information, the doctor can also write a prescription, if needed, and the appointment is recorded in the patient’s digital records.
Online consultations are convenient for people who live in rural areas, but they are also helpful for foreigners living in Estonia. At the moment, services on the Minudoc platform are available in English, Russian, Finnish, Estonian, French and Spanish. “The service is also available to those without public health insurance. Foreigners with private health insurance can also claim the cost of the appointment. We are already working with Ergo and other insurance providers are joining, too,” Pihl explains. Pricing is nevertheless reasonable – a 15-minute session with a GP costs between €10-15.
Minudoc thoroughly checks the background of their doctors and patients can read about the doctors in a short bio before making an appointment. All doctors are certified and employed at clinics throughout Estonia, not by Minudoc. “Doctors set their own schedules on the platform. And we can guarantee patients will never be kept waiting for their doctor. Doctors must be on-time for their appointments,” Pihl says.
To date, nearly 30 health-care professionals have joined the platform, but the number of service providers is steadily increasing. In the near future, there will be a number of other specialists and co-operation partners. “We welcome all doctors who want to provide patients with an innovative and convenient outlet to remote medical care to contact us,” Pihl encourages.
In October, in conjunction with the Mental Health Month, psychologists on the Minudoc platform are offering their services free of charge (normally €50 per session). “Patients may book in October for a consultation in November, so it’s a great opportunity for patients who need help dealing with the seasonal affective disorder,” Pihl notes.