3 years ago

Moving Health Professionals as an alternative to moving Patients: The contribution of Overseas Visiting Medical Specialists to the health system in Malta

Annalise Casha, Ramon Casha, Natasha Azzopardi Muscat

Cross-border healthcare has become a major policy issue in the past years across the European Union. Professional mobility as a means of providing specialised health services has not been given sufficient attention in both the research and policy agendas. This paper presents a case study of the contribution made by visiting overseas medical specialists to the health system in Malta. Twenty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted. A grounded theory approach was utilised in view of the limited amount of literature available on the subject. Qualitative content analysis revealed one superordinate theme, being the value of the service, and three further subthemes, which include the quality of the service provided, its longevity and durability, as well as the critical contributions of expatriates. The service is an integral component of the local health service. This study makes an important contribution to the literature on cross-border healthcare. Lessons learnt may be transferable to other small island states and territories. The European Reference Networks being developed at EU level may need to focus more on the benefits that can accrue through short term professional mobility than has been the case to date. The findings also serve to propose, several important features that need to be in place to increase the chances of longevity, sustainability, quality and cost effectiveness in cross border health care services.

Publisher URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016885102030052X

DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.03.002

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