Ekman B, Arvidsson E, Thulesius H, Wilkens J, Cronberg O
BMC Res Notes 14 (1) 424 [2021-11-24; online 2021-11-24]
To analyze changes in primary care utilization as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Swedish national register data from 2019 to 2020 on utilization of services were used to compare overall utilization levels and across types of contacts and patient groups. A specific objective was to assess the extent to which remote types of patient consultations were able to compensate for any observed fall in on-site visits. Data were stratified by sex and age to investigate any demographic pattern. Findings show significant reductions in overall utilization of services as the pandemic occurred in the first quarter of 2020. On-site visits fell during the first wave of the pandemic and rebounded thereafter. Patients over 65 years of age appear to have reduced utilization to a larger extent compared with younger groups. Simultaneously, remote contacts increased from around 12% before the pandemic to 17% of the total number of consultations. However, the net effect of changes in service utilization suggests an overall reduction of around 12 percent in the number of primary care consultations as a result of the pandemic. No differences between men and women were observed. Further research will continue to monitor changes in primary care utilization as the pandemic continues.