EU comparison: Austrians go more often to the doctor but are not healthier

January 8, 2014
EU comparison: Austrians go more often to the doctor but are not healthier
EU comparison: Austrians go more often to the doctor but are not healthier

Mr and Mrs Austria visit specialists, outpatient clinics and hospitals particularly often when compared with the rest of Europe. However, health and life expectation do not profit from this accordingly. Kathryn Hoffmann, a public health expert at the MedUni Vienna, therefore recommends a re-evaluation of the general practitioner.

"The use of the Austrian system is very high and uncoordinated in comparison with other EU countries," explains Kathryn Hoffmann from the Department of General and Family Medicine at the Centre for Public Health at the MedUni Vienna. This is, however, not reflected in better health or a higher "life expectation in ". For example, Austria lies under the EU 27-average with regard to "life expectation in good health" from 65 years onwards. On the other hand, the countless visits to specialists and outpatient clinics lead to above average costs.

According to Hoffman this would be rectified by general practitioners performing an obligatory coordinating function as numerous examples from other EU countries with better results demonstrate. Says Hoffmann: "General practitioners could, for instance, help their patients navigate the ever more complex health system and thus avoid multiple, unnecessary and stressful investigations and treatments."

According to a study led by Hoffmann, which was published this year in the leading journal, the European Journal of Public Health, the percentage of Austrians, who visit consultants in outpatient clinics at least once a year, lies at 67.4%. However, in countries such as Norway (17%), Ireland (24.8%) or the Netherlands (12.8%) the percentage is clearly much lower.

The possibility of visiting a specialist directly without a prior consultation with and referral from a general practitioner is also used intensively: almost every sixth person who visits a specialist at least once a year, every eleventh person who visits an outpatients' clinic and every twelfth person who had a hospital stay, did not consult a in the same period.

The authors of the study see the cause of this in a lack of coordination in the Austrian . They think this could even have negative consequences for patients. Says Hoffmann: "For example, relevant health problems could be overlooked if the diagnostics are only being carried out in one particular direction and the overview of the individuals concerned is lost." Furthermore, a lack of coordination often results in unnecessary investigations that take it out of people and are even risky, or in prescriptions for medications which are not optimally adjusted for each other.

Explore further: NPs practicing without restrictions could lower costs

More information: "Access points to the different levels of health care and demographic predictors in a country without a gatekeeping system. Results of a cross-sectional study from Austria." Hoffmann K, Stein KV, Maier M, Rieder A, Dorner TE. Eur J Public Health. 2013 Jan 31.

Related Stories

NPs practicing without restrictions could lower costs

December 13, 2013
(HealthDay)—Independently practicing nurse practitioners (NPs) seeing patients at retail health clinics can cut health care costs, according to a study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Stress in the orchestra: Mood plays a part

December 23, 2013
Even professional orchestra musicians suffer from particular stress on the day of the concert and release more cortisol. For the first time it has now been possible to demonstrate that, amongst others, the enzyme myeloperoxidase, ...

The first biological heart valve implanted into a beating heart

December 20, 2013
A few days ago, the cardiac surgeons at the MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital achieved an absolute first: the first biological heart valve implanted into a beating heart was given to a male patient who had a leaky ...

Better financing for mental healthcare

August 30, 2013
In 2008, the EU officially recognised mental health is a human right, while describing the overall level of mental health and well-being in Europe as a key resource for its success as a knowledge-based society and economy.

Outpatients, hospital patients face growing, but different problems with antibiotic resistance

April 18, 2013
A new study concludes that problems with antibiotic resistance faced by outpatients may be as bad as those in hospitalized patients, and that more studies of outpatients are needed – both to protect their health and to ...

Visits to multiple HIV clinics linked to poorer outcomes

October 9, 2013
Patients who received care at multiple HIV clinics—as opposed to only one— were less likely to take their medication and had higher HIV viral loads, a new study published in the journal AIDS and Behavior of almost 13,000 ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 09, 2014
This appears to be a problem of *how* medical advice is gained rather than the frequency.

Outpatient clinics are inferior to consultation with one's own GP as one's own doctor can provide continuity of care.

Yearly checkup is recommended for for most people. Why would such a consultation be done at an outpatient clinic?? It does not make sense...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.