Patients can choose not only any Finnish health care centre as their care provider but also any public hospital for special health care needs. The freedom of choice for special health care regards only non-urgent examination and care provided in a public hospital.
When, according to a doctor's professional opinion, a patient requires special care, the doctor in cooperation with the patient decide on the care provider to which to send the referral. The doctor also ensures that the hospital in question has the required specialty and competence.
Patients' domicile has no impact on the care arrangement. The order of admissions depends on the order in which the referrals arrive and patients need treatment. Assessment of therapeutic need has to be initiated within three weeks of the arrival of a referral to the care unit. Decision on care and treatment has to be made within three months of the arrival of a referral, and care and treatment started within six months from the decision.
If the patient does not choose the nearest special health care unit for their care and treatment, Kela compensates travel expenses equal to the nearest special care facility.
Only little information comparing the quality in different locations exists with no centralised source of information available at all. Various joint meters are being developed continuously.
Most hospitals already have access statistics on their webpage and a summary is presented also on the National Institute for Health and Welfare webpage. You will get more information about the patient's freedom to choose from personnel at health care centres and in hospital.
For more information about freedom of choice in primary health care, please see municipal webpages and health care centres.