Jochen Cals coordinates nationwide GP reporting system for untested COVID-19 deaths

14 April 2020

All general practice departments at Dutch universities are to collaborate in a single large-scale project to establish the numbers of COVID-19 patients nationally who are receiving intensive and palliative care from GPs outside of hospital. The project will be led by professor Jochen Cals (CAPHRI Research Line Optimising Patient Care). The data will include the number of deaths from COVID-19 of patients who have not been tested for the virus. Untested patients are not currently included in the statistics, which mainly focus on hospitals and intensive care. 

Reports will be made via the ZorgDomein platform, which 91 per cent of GPs already use for secure data exchange such as referrals to hospital. GPs will also be able to report deaths of COVID-19 patients over recent weeks. The reporting system in ZorgDomein will go live within the next few days.

The corona pandemic has profoundly affected the work of GPs in the Netherlands. While the media reports on IC beds and hospital admissions, GPs outside of hospital are treating many patients who are strongly suspected to have a COVID-19 infection. Some are vulnerable, but are not transferred to hospital after the advantages and disadvantages of hospitalisation have been weighed up by the GP, the patient and informal carers.

‘GPs, together with home care and informal carers, often provide palliative care for these patients,’ says Jochen Cals, GP and professor at the Department of General Practice, and a member of the General Practice Consortium. ‘However, only patients who have tested positive appear in the figures published by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Equally, the deaths of untested patients at home, in nursing homes or elsewhere are not included in the figures. The Consortium aims to supplement the RIVM figures and highlight the role of GPs in the corona pandemic. Currently, every GP practice has its own list, but as a profession we need to combine the information. We asked ZorgDomein if they can support this by including an option on the platform to make a special report. Almost every GP uses this system several times a day. Reporting takes only a minute.’

About the General Practice Consortium
The Consortium for General Practice Research was established in 2013 by the Research working group of the Interfaculty Consultation for General Practice (IOH-R). It aims to create and maintain optimal conditions for research in the field of primary medicine and in particular general medical practice in the Netherlands, including large-scale multicentre research.

About ZorgDomein
ZorgDomein is by far the most commonly used means of making digital referrals in the Netherlands, requesting diagnostics, conducting remote consultations and conferring about patients. The platform is used by virtually all GPs, hospitals, independent clinics and laboratories, as well as mental health organisations, nursing homes and other care institutions, municipalities, paramedics and independent professionals. 

In the media: 
NOS journaal, Radio 1,, Volkskrant, RTL nieuws, Irish times


Update 25 April 2020

The General Practice Consortium shared the first national results: General practitioners have registered at least 764 people who died of a suspected coronavirus infection without being hospitalized. See an overview of the results here

In the media:
NOSNOS Radio 1 journaal1Vandaag (minute 6.15), L1Volkskrant, etc. 


(Text is partly taken from Maastricht University website).