Due to the pandemic spread of COVID-19, the Dutch national Outbreak Management Team imposed measures for healthcare professionals to reorganize their care. Like all healthcare providers, general practitioners (GPs) encountered serious challenges during the COVID-19-pandemic, both in GP practices and at out-of-hour (OOH) services. In some regions the demand for care dropped dramatically, in other regions GPs were challenged to cope with an increased influx of patients with respiratory problems. In all regions this has seriously affected the organization of primary care. What can we learn from the way these challenges were approached and resolved? How did patients experience and access (GP-) care during the COVID-19 pandemic? How can we keep primary care and the health care system in general resilient and sustainable? This project answers these questions.
In a mixed methods design we combine electronic health records data from GP practices and OOH services, with in-depth interviews and surveys among GPs and patients. We provide an extensive overview of care provided by GPs and the impact of COVID-19, for confirmed/suspected COVID-19 patients and for other patients. We will focus on specific (vulnerable) patient groups, including children and elderly persons with different individual characteristics e.g. chronic illnesses/comorbidity, vulnerability, sex, age, socio economic status. The questionnaires and interviews will provide more insight in organizational changes in GP-care and experiences of patients and GPs.
It is important to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on GP-care, because of its crucial role in the Dutch healthcare system. Without this information, the impact of the pandemic on the healthcare system cannot be fully understood nor can we organize it in an adequate way. This information is not only relevant during pandemic periods, but also for more optimal care during ‘normal’ periods.