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Nearly 50% of Finnish people consider the quality of health care today worse than before

The number of people satisfied with health care in Finland has decreased. Nearly one half feels that the quality of health care has worsened over the past few years. The majority of respondents also considered that the provision of health care services leaves people in unequal situations. This information is available from the Health Care Barometer survey carried out in May by TNS Gallup. The data was collected nationwide by means of a comprehensive, Web-based panel.

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The number of people satisfied with health care in Finland has decreased. Nearly one half feels that the quality of health care has worsened over the past few years. The majority of respondents also considered that the provision of health care services leaves people in unequal situations. This information is available from the Health Care Barometer survey carried out in May by TNS Gallup. The data was collected nationwide by means of a comprehensive, Web-based panel.

The objective of Health Care Barometer, now carried out for the third time, is to investigate the views of Finnish people on matters related to health care. Using the barometer, respondents are requested to state their views regarding equality in care provision, their personal experiences as well as how sufficiently society contributes to health care. The survey was commissioned by Pharmaceutical Information Centre, Sitra, AstraZeneca Oy and MSD Finland Oy.

Trust in quality, concerns about the future

Finns view the current quality of health care as high but are concerned about the future. The majority of respondents thought there was inequality in the provision of health care services: access to and the quality of services vary depending on geographical location, the patient’s wealth and the service provider. Respondents also felt that those using public health care services do not receive as good care as those opting for private services.

Finns are quite critical about the contribution of society to health care. Two thirds of respondents think that the amount of tax money allocated to health care is not sufficient. The lack in the number of health care personnel causes most dissatisfaction, and more involvement is expected on the part of society in covering the costs incurred by treatments and medications. In order to receive better quality care, six out of ten respondents in the survey would be willing to pay higher deductibles in health care.

“Developing health care requires completely new approaches. Adding more personnel and more money alone cannot be the answer since we will run out of those unless something else is done. Maintaining high-quality and customer-centred services also requires that we dare to shuffle the cards in terms of the tasks and responsibilities of the different stakeholders as well in terms of the priorities we set in health care,” says Hannu Hanhijärvi, Executive Director of Sitra’s Health Care Programme.

Easy access to health information, not so easy to see a doctor

Respondents are most satisfied with their access to health information and most dissatisfied with their access to see a doctor and to obtain information on different treatment options. There was no significant change in the use of health-related information sources and in respondents’ experiences of electronic services, compared to the previous survey. The Internet continues to be the second most important source of health information after health care professionals. Services provided through the Internet, such as making appointments, viewing one’s own medical history, receiving examination results and using electronic forms, were on the wish list of over 70% of respondents. However, only a small number of respondents had used health care services online since the supply of the services is not yet very extensive.

“The position of the Internet as a source of information is strengthening. In pharmaceuticals, the information available online in particular Finland is leading the way in Europe. According to the survey, this can be seen in respondents’ satisfaction with the accessibility of health information. Online services such as Terveyskirjasto (“health library”), which contains reliable information, must be supported and developed,” says Erkki Alanko, Managing Director of the Pharmaceutical Information Centre.

A total of 1,026 Finns between 15 and 79 years of age participated in the survey. The information was gathered using the TNS GallupForum, an online information collection system in a panel form. TNS Gallup has recruited over 30,000 respondents to the panel. A sample that sufficiently represents people living in the country is selected from this group for each survey. Each respondent may answer questions covering various topics up to twice a month.

Further information:

Erkki Alanko, Managing Director, Pharmaceutical Information Centre,
tel. +358 (0)9-6150 4904, erkki.alanko@laaketietokeskus.fi

Sirkka Paronen, Director, TNS Gallup,
tel. +358(0)9-61 350 705, sirkka.paronen@tns-global.com

A summary of the key results of the barometer is available at www.laaketietokeskus.fi

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