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April 13, 2023

Inspirational story RHOGO

The collaboration between RHOGO and Digital Care Helpdesk is an example of how patients benefit from digital care if they are supported in this. The Regional General Practitioners Organization Gooi en Omstreek (RHOGO) is the regional general practitioner association of general practitioners in the Gooi and Vecht region. About 150 practicing and registered general practitioners are affiliated with the RHOGO. RHOGO's general practitioners are also affiliated with the Digital Care Helpdesk, which means that they have the option to refer their patients for questions about digital care.

Bas Weebers and Arnoud Borst are closely involved in the collaboration from RHOGO. Bas Weebers is a general practitioner in Bussum and a board member at the general practitioner cooperative HCGO, owner of the RHOGO. Bas is also chairman of the board of the Helpdesk Digital Care Foundation. Bas Weebers: “In my work as a general practitioner, I strive for optimal, easily accessible general practitioner care. This means working together in the consultation room with the patient to arrive at the best solution together. In my director's role at the Helpdesk Digital Care Foundation, I want to contribute to making digital care accessible. Digitization also plays a major role in the consultation room, so we must work together to ensure that everyone can benefit from this.”

Arnoud Borst is Services Manager at RHOGO and is often involved in business and IT-related issues within RHOGO. The use of digital care and relieving the burden on general practices in the region is an important part of this.

What is RHOGO's commitment to the collaboration, and where did it originate? What is your vision on digital care?

Arnoud Borst: “Together with Tergooi MC and Amaris, we have started Helpdesk Digital Care to find a regional solution for the increasing questions that patients have about the use of digital care. We believe that this initiative can help general practices in the region in the short and long term. At RHOGO we support the use of digital care if it can reduce the workload within general practices in the region or contribute to this.”

What are your experiences with digital care and patient adoption? How do you use Helpdesk Digital Care for this and what does it bring you? Can you make this concrete with an example?

Bas Weebers: “Digital care has been around for a long time, patients email their GP, Google is used and years ago there was the first Twitter consultation. However, when the GDPR law came into effect in 2018, it was necessary to professionalize digital care. But above all, I see that these digital developments lead to significant improvements in healthcare, for example often less administrative hassle, extensive options for creating files and digitally scheduling appointments. However, a large group of patients (but also colleagues in the region and in general practices elsewhere) are unfortunately not sufficiently able to keep up with these developments, let alone understand them, or simply do not have confidence in them.”

“That is why the Digital Care Helpdesk was created, to provide support to patients who have difficulty with this. This may be due to insufficient knowledge, but stress or uncertainty also certainly play a role. In my practice, the Digital Care Helpdesk is actively appointed in the consultation room if there is a suspicion that the patient is experiencing or may experience barriers. It saves a lot of time if the patient does not have to discuss with the doctor's assistant how his login to the patient environment works. It makes a huge difference if the patient, with the help of the Digital Care Helpdesk, manages to make an appointment digitally during the consultation hour. Next time they will do it themselves!”

Merlijne Sonneveld, founder and director of Helpdesk Digital Care

We are happy with the collaboration with RHOGO, which has been involved in our organization since the very beginning. Like RHOGO, more and more healthcare institutions are actively offering digital care to their patients.

“That is an absolute condition for a successful collaboration with Helpdesk Digitale Zorg: we can provide support when the care provider plays an active role in this.”

What does the collaboration with Helpdesk Digitale Zorg look like and how do you experience it?

Arnoud Borst: “The collaboration with the Digital Care Helpdesk is going well. It helps patients to ask questions quickly and accessibly about the use of digital resources used by the general practitioner. This helps the patient and relieves the burden on the staff at the GP practice. In the future, we expect significant growth in the need for support from the Digital Care Helpdesk.”

How do you see the developments in digital care and what role do you see for Helpdesk Digital Care in this?

Bas Weebers: “I think that developments in the field of digital care are only on the eve of larger developments. Patient platforms are being used more and more intensively, with control also shifting to the patient.”

“However, in my opinion, developments sometimes move faster than a very large group of people, such as the elderly, can keep up with. In this way, they too suddenly become 'digitally literate', where they previously could do digitally. Digital skills play a role in this, but also stress, for example, surrounding the use of e-health or uncertainties surrounding health data. We are dealing with an aging population in the Netherlands and we can easily imagine that digital support must grow along with this and acquire a permanent place in the digital healthcare world.”

“Helpdesk Digitale Zorg already serves a large part of the Netherlands with digital support. In the future, I think that Helpdesk Digital Care should obtain national coverage to offer this support to all patients in the Netherlands. “

For organizations that have not yet taken the step, what tips or lessons learned do you have for them?

Arnoud Borst: “Implementing the Digital Care Helpdesk within the existing working method in the region requires attention. Patients will not automatically contact the Digital Care Helpdesk with technical and digital questions. We can still learn a lot about this at the moment. My tip would be to proactively think about how communication with patients about the possibilities of the Digital Care Helpdesk can be designed.”

René Batenburg – Medical Director of the Regional General Practitioners Organization of Gooi and Surroundings

We live in a digital world and notice that not everyone is equally well connected or prepared for this reality. It is very nice for our general practitioners that there is a Digital Care Helpdesk that can support our patients/citizens.

“In my role, I can only embrace this initiative. Our general practitioners and medical assistants can refer people to this support via the Digital Care Helpdesk, which is fantastic.”