How Digital Healthcare Solutions Help Expats in Estonia

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Riin Rehemaa
Social Media & Community Manager

There’s no doubt that digital healthcare is on the rise.

In April 2020, overall telehealth utilization for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher than in February 2020. But, what exactly is digital healthcare? And how does it compare to so-called old-school primary healthcare?

Digital healthcare uses technology to improve patient care, including electronic health records and telemedicine to wearables and healthcare applications.

With the rise of SaaS, mobile apps, and everything else, it’s easy to think this is just another instance of an industry getting swept up by buzzwords and trends. However, statistics from the American Medical Association and the Wellness Council of America reveal that digital healthcare will eventually become the gold standard for improving healthcare effectiveness and safety. According to these statistics, doctors believed that 75% of physical visits were unnecessary and could have been handled over a quick video call.

Not convinced? In this article, we’ll look into a family using Salu and their digital healthcare experience.

If you’re curious about how the health care system works in Estonia, check out our article on primary healthcare providers in Estonia.

90% of expats have faced a language barrier when visiting a doctor.

BMC Health Services Research
June 2019

Meet Mary, John, and the Squad

John is a software developer, and Mary works in marketing.

They and their two kids arrived in Estonia in 2021, and like any other responsible expats, they took the necessary steps to get registered with a family doctor. Though, it was hard going since there aren’t many English-speaking doctors in Estonia. But, after 7 months of searching and getting on a waiting list, they were finally accepted by a general practitioner — though they had to ask friends to come along with them and translate because of the language barrier.

This is not an uncommon sight, unfortunately. In one study, 90% of participants said they faced language barriers when visiting a doctor at least once a year.

Temperatures Start Rising

Other than the awkward encounters of trying to communicate with their doctor, all was going well.

That was until one day, John and Mary noticed their youngest kid was starting to feel under the weather. Given they recently had gone through global pandemics, they made sure to keep their kids separate and monitored their child’s health while keeping them as comfortable as possible. But, to no avail, they were getting crankier and more irritable.

That’s when Mary and John decided to check their temperature.

It turns out that their youngest was running a fever.

They did the only sensible thing and called their doctor for an appointment. Unfortunately, it was a Friday morning, and the nurse informed them that they couldn’t schedule a visit until Tuesday. Annoyed but undeterred, Mary and John took to Google for advice on taking care of a sick child in Estonia.

This was their first encounter with digital health solutions, and that’s when they stumbled across Salu, a licensed healthcare service provider focused on delivering primary health care primarily online but also operates physical clinics in Estonia.

Turning to Digital Healthcare Solutions for Help

With desperation setting in, Mary and John signed up with Salu. As Salu did not require Estonian-specific documents, payment methods, or registered addresses, it took exactly 30 seconds to sign up.

They submitted a query describing their child’s condition, and to their surprise, in no time at all, they were already having a call with a qualified doctor who spoke English. Within 35 minutes, they had finished their consultation and received:

  • Advice on how to take care of their kid;
  • A recommendation for medicines; and
  • An appointment on the same day.

After a trip to the doctor and following their medical advice, Mary and John managed to nurse their kid over the weekend. By Monday, their temperature had returned to normal, the day before they would have had the original appointment.

Since then, they have preferred to stick to using Salu as opposed to visiting the doctor’s office to keep on top of their physical and mental well-being.

Instead of spending nearly an hour traveling and waiting to be seen by a doctor, they simply log into Salu and get inexpensive consultations between tasks at work. This allows them to spend more time with their family, stay focused on work during weekdays and remove the stress of worrying about scheduling doctor’s appointments. Traditionally, Mary & John would’ve received instant help through a private clinic that cost around €120, but with Salu, the whole family could get help starting from €19.90.

Want to see for yourself why they stuck around with Salu? Give Salu a try!

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