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Austria Primary Care Network

Austria invests $110 Million in 90 Primary Care Centers. Opportunities exist in health ICT, furniture, medical imaging, diagnostic & hygiene equipment.

With over $110 Million in funding from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility, Austria is poised to realize a long-overdue investment into their primary care system, extending their small network of Primary Care Centers (PVEs) from 24 in 2021 to 90 by 2026. The actual investment will be significantly higher, as the dedicated EU funding will be distributed largely as matching funds to investments made directly by physicians.

Strengthening primary care is a high priority as Austria faces an alarming shortage of family physicians in both rural and urban areas. With around 30% of Austria’s “country doctors” already at or past retirement age, the current shortage in rural areas will blossom into a genuine crisis in the next ten years if no action is taken. Urban areas are plagued by a different problem: there are too few general practitioners (GP) and high-demand specialists such as OB-GYNs and pediatricians who accept public insurance. A main reason for these gaps in coverage is that physicians who worked for the public insurance carrier have historically been prohibited from hiring other doctors, de facto preventing group medical practices. As a result, social insurance-contracted physicians outside of urban centers were almost always on duty, and those in larger cities faced full waiting rooms with insufficient time to dedicate to each patient.

The new PVE initiative, launched in 2021, seeks to make a career as GP (or high-demand specialist) for the public insurance carriers more attractive to a new generation of doctors who value more collaboration with their colleagues, access to modern facilities, a manageable patient load, and a better work-life balance than typical in private practice.

In addition to addressing the legal impediment to group practices, the Ministry of Health is rolling out generous monetary incentives. The approximately 65 new and 24 existing PVEs will need IT and communications systems, software, furniture, medical imaging equipment, diagnostic laboratory equipment, hygiene equipment, etc. The enabling legislation specifically requires that PVE investment consider environmental and access factors; therefore, funding for alternative energy and mobility solutions can also be supported.  This is a great opportunity for U.S. companies to establish a pilot or proof-of-concept installation of their technology with physicians groups who will be implementing the PVE investments.

For more information about Austrian Primary Care Centers (PVCs), please contact Marta Haustein, Senior Commercial Specialist at CS Vienna: marta.haustein@trade.gov.

10/20/2021