People aged 65 or over are very satisfied with quality of healthcare

Bern, 30.11.2021 - The majority of people in Switzerland aged 65 or over report above-average levels of satisfaction with healthcare. This is the finding of a survey conducted in eleven countries under the aegis of the Commonwealth Fund foundation. The survey was conducted in the spring of 2021, so during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the survey shows, 97% of older adults in Switzerland have a general practitioner (GP), who in most cases helps coordinate their medical care.

Every three years, the Commonwealth Fund conducts a survey of older adults in several countries. The results show that those aged 65 or over in Switzerland are very satisfied with the quality of medical care they receive. Switzerland therefore performs very well by international comparison, as in previous surveys. 

The vast majority of respondents (81%) describe their own state of health as excellent, very good or good. However, almost a quarter of respondents in Switzerland reported major or minor limitations in their everyday activities (e.g. getting out of bed).

Eight out of ten older adults surveyed in Switzerland stated that they suffer from at least one chronic disease. The most frequent ones cited were high blood pressure and arthritis or joint pain. Disease management has improved over the last four years. For example, in 2021, significantly more of those affected (64%) have a treatment plan that they can implement in their day-to-day lives. That is significantly more than in 2017 (46%). In addition, the majority is very confident or confident that their own health problem is under control.

GP surgeries coordinate care

In Switzerland, 97% of the older resident population have a GP. In nine out of ten cases, respondents get an answer on the same day if they contact their GP surgery about a medical issue. At the same time, half of those surveyed said it was difficult to access medical care in the evenings, at weekends and on public holidays without visiting an emergency medical service.

People aged 65 or over in Switzerland are more likely than in other countries to consult many different doctors, but they are most likely to get support from their GP. In three quarters of cases (77%), GPs always or often arrange and coordinate treatment with other care providers.

Few consultations by phone or video

Just under a fifth of respondents said that they had had an appointment with a doctor or other health professional cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which puts Switzerland in the middle of the list compared with the other countries participating in the survey. At the same time, medical consultations were much less likely to take place by phone or video call in Switzerland than in the other countries.

End-of-life care

Written documents that set out the end-of-life care someone wishes to receive and designate a person authorised to make decisions have become much more widespread in recent years. Sixty-five per cent of older adults in Switzerland have discussed with their family, friends or a medical professional what treatment they do or do not wish to receive in the event that they can no longer decide for themselves due to sickness or injury. Forty-four per cent have also set this out in a written document.

Switzerland has participated in the international Commonwealth Fund health policy survey since 2010. The Commonwealth Fund is a private, not-for-private foundation whose mission is to promote high-performing healthcare systems with better access to health insurance and improved quality of care.

As in 2014 and 2017, the 2021 survey concerns the resident population aged 65 or over and their experiences with the health system. Besides Switzerland, the survey also covered Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Norway, Sweden, the UK and the United States. In Switzerland, 2,597 people aged 65 or over were surveyed in the three language regions on behalf of the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH.  

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