The role of the general practitioner

In Denmark, all citizens have free access to a general practitioner (GP) who acts as the gateway to all healthcare services. The GP is the patient’s primary contact point to the healthcare system, and 90 % of all medical cases are handled by the GP.

GPs handle preventive healthcare, and treatment and coordination of services from various healthcare professionals. Upon consultation, the GP can refer the patient to a hospital, for treatment by a specialist, or to preventive services such as weight loss or smoking cessation.

A Danish GP completes a 6-year basic medical education and an additional 5-year specialist education at the same level as other medical specialists. The GP has knowledge of both the health status and the general circumstances of the patient’s life, which makes the GP an important player in securing a holistic approach to treatment. Furthermore, the GP is aware of any co-morbidities the patient may have, and can take these into account when planning the treatment.

The GP is notified electronically about the citizen’s journey through the treatment system, including hospitalisation and interactions with municipal offerings. This enables the GP to follow up and ensures that the citizen is handled optimally.