Kollega provides swift and relevant advice on difficult medical issues


This is a translation of a Swedish article from Internetmedicin. The original article can be read here.

Staffan Olsson, a general practitioner in Skåne, is one of the users who quickly adopted Kollega and now knows how it is best used in daily work.

“The main advantage is the swiftness of getting answers to consultations. In a matter of moments, tips and advice that facilitate decision-making will be posted, says Staffan Olsson”

Following the launch of Kollega, more than 2,700 Swedish doctors are now using the service. The goal is to get 10,000 doctors to register into the service by 2021. The service was developed by the Finnish company Panacea and was launched together with Internetmedicin in Sweden in the autumn of 2020. The Finnish variant introduced in 2019 has managed to connect almost half of the Finnish medical profession. Only doctors can join the digital service.

But back to Staffan Olsson and his experiences after just over six months of using the service:

“For me, who has always had a great interest in computers and digitalization, the introduction of Kollega was long-awaited. It undeniably uses the latest technological advancements in an efficient way. The benefits are great especially for many doctors outside the big cities. They often experience that they are alone as the doctor in charge.

In more difficult cases, it is a huge advantage to be able to ask a question and get several answers from a large network of colleagues. It becomes quite easy to distinguish which treatment is best suited for the situation. In the few times when there has been misleading answers from an individual doctor, the person in question has been reprimanded, but always in a friendly tone."

Do you have a concrete example of when you have used Kollega?

“A common work situation which can raise some questions is when blood test results show discrepancies. In one such situation, I published the test results and asked an open question if other doctors had had the same discrepancies. The brainstorming and exchange of experiences was absolutely invaluable and happened much faster than finding answers from medical literature.”

What are the most obvious benefits of Kollega?

“Absolutely the speed and accessibility. You get immediate feedback and there are, on average, five to ten answers per question. In addition, the service is self-moderating. A bit more "strange" or irrelevant questions always generate significantly more discussion but are kindly addressed with credible arguments"

How does the app work when it comes to usability?

"I have to say that the service is very easy to use and the threshold for starting to use it is low. What I have observed is that many doctors have the same type of problem and even if you know the answer to difficult questions, it creates a sense of security when your own theories are confirmed by the experience of others.

I think it is easier to show shortcomings in terms of knowledge in this forum compared to direct contacts in a workplace. Most people show no prestige and it is possible to participate anonymously even if the majority, including myself, use their real name.”

What are the opportunities for improvement, are there any features that you are missing?

"It might be that the service will need to expand the number of available subjects and it could even be a good idea to divide subject areas into different theme rooms.”

Any other thoughts on Kollega?

"I welcome the fact that it is a private initiative. I do not think the platform could have been done if, for example, the local municipalities or regions had been the initiators. For many, not least the younger and more inexperienced doctors, Kollega should be an important asset in their professional practice. With that said, I assume that no user follows a single piece of advice from others. As doctors, we should never shy away from our own responsibility and decision-making.

As a general practitioner, I benefit from the wide range of topics in the service. The questions have revolved around everything from nail biting to the consequences of a heart attack and everything in between. In recent times, there have been many questions about skin problems where the function of being able to upload images has really come in handy.

Personally, I am tired of the traditional social media, but I am active on Kollega probably every day and even outside working hours. There are certainly more and more doctors who feel that their private and working life are increasingly merging. But getting a quick answer to a tricky question undeniably facilitates the professional role.”