West-Brabant hosts some 40,000 migrant workers. A large number of these do not have a GP. Care is therefore hard to access for this group. Healthcare for internationals and Arene digital GP practice started up a unique project aimed at improving this situation.
As of early October, participating agencies in the region have been registering their foreign employees with Arene (with their consent). This offers migrant workers direct access to a GP of their own.
In the event of health problems, registered migrant workers contact Arene through an App. They are given online advice through a chat system. With one button click they are also able to make an appointment for a video call or view their medical record. The App is currently available in Polish, Romanian, English and Dutch.
Arene keeps a record on each registered migrant worker, in which medical history is kept up to date. This should help the GP to diagnose over half of the cases digitally, enabling them to advise the patient immediately.
When physical examination or a procedure is required, the migrant worker is referred to a GP practice near them. Arene has made agreements with regional GPs to make this possible. In such events these GPs will also be given access to the patient’s record.
Improved access to care
This approach should strongly improve access to healthcare. Labour migrants are expected to contact a doctor more easily if they have health problems. In the old situation, they tended to postpone a doctor’s visit endlessly to avoid the hassle, risking complications. Now, if they inform their employer of a doctor’s visit and ask them to arrange transport, it is for a good reason: a referral from the digital GP.
Initial results early 2022
Tranzo, Tilburg University will be performing research into the experiences of labour migrants as well as participating GPs. The results of this study are expected at the start of 2022.
These results can be compared to a study into the experiences of migrant workers with the Dutch healthcare system that was performed by H4i and HollandZorg, market leader in healthcare insurance for migrant workers.
That study showed how less than half of labour migrants trusted the diagnosis or approach of the Dutch doctors. Furthermore, over half of the respondents felt insufficiently informed as to where to turn in the event of health problems.
The province of Noord-Brabant provided funding to H4i at the end of 2019 in order to improve the care of labour migrants and other internationals in the region.
Like us on Facebook and sign up for regular news and updates.