Concrete plans for new international health care centre

Last week Monday, at the Hub Eindhoven for Expats, a presentation of a new international health care centre in Eindhoven was given. Holland Expat Center South, SGE (health centres Eindhoven foundation) and IHS (International Health Service) decided to provide better health care service for international citizens of Eindhoven.

The new centre is due to open in April 2015, most probably at Strijp S.

It became apparent that internationals struggled with their primary health care. Visits to GPs are often not satisfactory because of culture differences, short consultation times and language hurdles.
Comments like "How can the doctor get to know me and my medical history in just 10 minutes?" and "In my home country I feel more confident that the doctor will cure my ailments", proved that the expectations were not met.

The conservative policy of giving out medication to patients for example is also a reoccurring subject. This is common in the Netherlands, but not always appreciated by expats. To make it a point of discussion is often ‘not done’ by foreigners on the other hand. "…I don’t want to put up a fight, especially not when I am feeling lousy" and "My doctor told me to go home, drink a lot of water, meditate and take a paracetamol if needed", were annotations heard in the questioned group.

The research figures demonstrate the same: only 32% of the respondents trust that the doctor knows the best treatment and feel confident in his care; 21% find their doctor open to different ways of doing things, but 40% think the doctor is not. Also, 31% of the questioned group have difficulty in getting an appointment with the GP quickly enough and 53% have got the desire "to be able to see a specialist quickly and easily".

The team took note of the various challenges and came up with a different approach. In the new health centre, the first consultation with the new doctor may take from 30 to 45 minutes. Building a good relationship by building trust may be one of the solutions to unhappy patients. Raising awareness among the hired doctors and medical staff that visitors to the centre don’t always understand the Dutch tactics might be another one.

Dirk Jan Frijling of IHS is explaining: "Also using modern communication like internet to enhance accessibility to the basic medical service is a proposition for improvement. Through this medium we have more information exchange, innovative diagnostics and the possibility of making online appointments."

Another aspect that will be implemented is the minimizing of the separation between a doctor’s practice and a hospital. People can come to the international clinic for basic treatments like diabetes and other simple surgery procedures for example, for which they normally would have to go to the hospital.

The capacity building of the centre will be done gradually. They will start with a limited amount of patients and if the need arises they can extend the service to more people. At first, the focus will be on the internationals and the working community of Strijp-S and TU/e.

Trying to match the services within health insurance coverage without extra costs is the intention but it may appear that extra compensation is sometimes needed.

"Attending better to the needs of the international population of Eindhoven and surroundings is our aim. Combining their requirements with our wish for innovating the way we work. This means also extra practical advice and support," concludes Conny Helder of SGE.

Irene Martens

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