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Accessibility gains from virtual health rooms in Västerbotten

To secure better access to general practitioners for the rural population, the region of Västerbotten has developed the concept of virtual healthrooms (VHRs). These VHRs are unstaffed, which means that they have no regular health personnel in situ. They are equipped with distance-spanningtechnology, which means that patients can go there to take consultations from a practitioner online, conducting health checks such as measuringblood pressure or heart rate. The coloured patches on the map show those populated areas in Västerbotten where inhabitants can expect a reduction of travel distance to primary health care through the implementation of VHRs. The coloured patches are populated areas in Västerbotten (by 1000*1000m grid) with improved accessibility of health care resulting from the implementation of virtual health rooms. The colour indicates the total distance reduced.Distance is measured as being via the road network. The average distance to the closest primary health care facility (health centre or virtual health room) is 6 km for the overall population in Västerbotten. The implementation of VHRs means that around 3.5% of the 270,000 inhabitants of Västerbotten experience increased accessibility toa primary health care service. The travel distance for this portion of the population has been cut by almost 50%, from 42 km per person to 23 km per person. Patients may also use virtual health rooms to conduct teleconsultations with health professionals at specialised hospitals, which creates even greater potential from an accessibility standpoint.