“Even though there is plenty to do in the clinic, and the work there is very exciting and rewarding, I have chosen, throughout my medical career, to prioritise time for research as well.”
For which types of patients are video consultations used in the Out of Hours Primary Care Service (OOH-PC), and what are the benefits of using this option? How can health professionals other than GP’s staff the OOH-PC? Professor Morten Bondo Christensen and his colleagues attempt to answer these two questions in two current research projects.
Morten Bondo Christensen, who in addition to being a researcher at the Department of Public Health is also a private GP with his own clinic in Aarhus, conducts research into acute primary care. He is amongst other things interested in the organisation of the healthcare system and the principles and practices associated with patient triage. One of his particular focus areas is the OOH-PC.
“My field of research is quite broad, because the research embraces all the contacts that are not planned, whether to one’s own doctor or to the OOH-PC. This includes conditions from a sore throat to stroke. We are interested in the acute conditions that arise both during and outside a GP’s normal opening hours,” says Professor Morten Bondo Christensen, and elaborates:
“When you think of the emergency healthcare services, you often think of flashing blue lights. But acute conditions encompass far more than those that require an ambulance response. This is why it is important to apply science to optimise referral and treatment by your own GP, and that we examine how best to organise and develop the OOH-PC, which is under enormous pressure at present.”
Waiting times for calling the OOH-PC can be long, which can mean that seriously ill people may have to wait too long before they can get the help they need. Morten Bondo Christensen and his colleagues have therefore developed a solution, the so-called acute button, which has now been implemented across the country.
“The acute button is a good example of what our research can be translated into, and how it can make a difference for citizens and the healthcare system. Another example will hopefully be the increased use of video consultations, which allow the doctor to see a patient without them having to turn up at the clinic,” says Morten Bondo Christensen.
He collaborates with his colleagues in general practice, prehospital care and the more traditional emergency services, such as the regional emergency response centres, and many of the research projects are or will be implemented in several regions.
“Our research will help to ensure that there is an emergency response available on the basis of general practice during all hours. At the moment, we are experiencing a shortage of health professionals, doctors and nurses, who can man OOH-PC. So we need to find out how we can maintain high-quality emergency services, even though the resources are reduced,” explains Morten Bondo Christensen.
The challenge of the shortage of healthcare professionals is an issue for which one of the projects of Morten Bondo Christensen’s research group is attempting to find a solution. The project deals with task shifting and task delegation, and examines, amongst other things, whether and how other disciplines can contribute to solving the tasks of the emergency medical helpline. The specific study deals with tasks in OOH consultation, which experienced nurses would be able to handle.
According to Morten Bondo Christensen, research in acute conditions is almost by default practice-based and therefore easy to implement. And this is important – both for the profession and for him personally.
“The scientific approach to the medical profession means a lot to me. It is motivating to see the research come out into practice and benefit people, as is the case with the acute button, for example,” says Morten Bondo Christensen, and continues.
“In general, I think it is important that there are people who wear both hats, i.e. who are both researchers and GPs. In any case, I maintain close connections with the scientific environment, even though there is plenty to do in my practice. I learn a lot from both places, and that makes me both a better researcher and a better doctor.”
Morten Bondo Christensen was born in 1967, and he is affiliated with both the Department of Public Health and the Research Unit of General Practice.