Healthcare usage in The Netherlands decreased by 12% after providing high-quality evidence-based online health information via Dutch website Thuisarts.nl. Thuisarts.nl was designed and build by E-health specialists of digital agency One Shoe on behalf of NHG, the Dutch College of General Practitioners and was launched in March 2012. The primary goal of the website is to provide reliable medical information, easily accessible and understandable using plain language.
Thuisarts.nl is the most visited healthcare website in the Netherlands
Since its launch, the website has grown to become the most visited healthcare website in the Netherlands with more than 4 million unique page views per month. 90% of the GPs in The Netherlands use Thuisarts.nl as a supportive tool during their consultations. The website also won several awards and was nominated twice as Website of the Year in 2014 and 2016. However, its effect on healthcare usage was not yet known, untill now.
Many patients are searching online for information about their health. But from a need for reliable information many still preferred to go to a doctor. The question of the researchers was whether reliable, independent online information reduces the use of GP care. The impact of such a website on the actual use of GP care had never been examined.
In the study, performed by principal investigator and professor of e-health Niels Chavannes of Leiden University Medical Center and published in the British Medical Journal, the number of consultations in primary care before and after the launch of Thuisarts.nl has been investigated from 2009 to 2014. Study includes 912 000 patients who visited their general practitioners 18.1 million times during this period. The evidence shows that there was 12% decrease in consultation rate before and after the release of Thuisarts.nl. This proves that eHealth can be effective to improve self-management and reduce healthcare usage in times of increasing healthcare costs.
Michel van Velde, CEO of One Shoe, is very proud that Thuisarts.nl has made such a contribution to healthcare. The agency, with offices in the Netherlands and Munich has paid close attention to the medical information that was available and identified all the user needs and requirements. A team of user experience and design specialists brought all the information together in an easy to navigate information architecture, after which they functionally conceived and developed the website. “The results of the study verify our understanding of the end-users of the website as we researched it. We are impressed by the effect as shown by the study. We now want to export this knowledge across the globe.
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