Improving primary care in Europe beyond COVID-19: from telemedicine to organizational reforms

Livio Garattini, Marco Badinella Martini, Pier Mannuccio Mannucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has put under pressure all the health national systems in Europe and telemedicine (TM) has been an almost unavoidable answer for primary care (PC) services to constrain the contagion. PC includes all the healthcare services that are the first level of contact for individuals. General practitioners (GPs) are the pivotal providers of PC throughout Europe. Although GP costs are mainly covered by public services or social insurances in Europe, they are still self-employed physicians everywhere, differently from their colleagues in hospitals who are traditionally employees. TM is a very general term open to various interpretations and definitions. TM can now be practiced by means of modern audio-visual devices and is an alternative to the traditional face-to-face consultation in general practice. Although the adoption of TM seems to be compelling in our era, its practical dissemination in PC has been quite slow so far, and many different concerns have been raised on it. On the whole, TM widespread adoption in PC seems to be more a matter of labor organization and health care funding than of technology and ethics. Larger-scale organizations comprising a wide range of health professionals have become a pressing priority for a modern PC, because working together is crucial to provide high-quality care to patients, and co-location should boost teamwork and facilitate the management of information technology. A national network of large organizations in PC could be rationally managed through local budgets and should increase efficiency by adopting tools such as TM.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntern. Emerg. Med.
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 16 2020


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