Nowadays, almost everything, if not all, have gone digital. Communication, business, shopping, and even some part of healthcare system has gone virtual. People prefer this virtual method of consultation mainly because it is more convenient for both parties in many cases. Although, others would still prefer to visit their doctor or general practitioners in the clinics because they feel more secure.
Anyway,you should get to know more about online doctor consultation. Who knows? Maybe, you won’t feel the need to see your GP for some particular health concerns especially in case of follow-up care.
What is Online doctor consultation?
Virtual or online doctor consultation is when a patient seeks medical advice from health care practitioners through the online platform for video conferences and the like. This is an innovative way to give consultations to patients, especially those who live in far-flung and remote areas.
The Benefits of Virtual Doctor Consultation
Convenient for both parties (patient and doctor)
This is probably one of the prime reasons patients are now venturing into the world of online consultation. This is because of this method, patients are not required to leave the comforts of their home, and they don’t get to waste minutes from driving back and forth and waiting for their turn in the clinic. In addition, they also don’t expose themselves to communicable diseases that they may contract in the waiting areas of the clinics. It is also convenient for the general practitioners as well because they don’t have to travel to far to give medical advice, especially to people in remote areas.
Keeps more convenient health records
Here doctors get to take and save relevant records that can be used and stored for future follow-up consultations. Also, information gathered and stored through data input can easily be accessed and kept up-to-date.
More patient engagement
“Patients become more engaged with the consultation process with the virtual method. This is because they sometimes do the inspection themselves and report it to the doctor. Also, other virtual clinics use a platform that enables the medical practitioner to bring up the chart or see previous records, images, or videos of the examination and explain it profoundly using a virtual pen. This helps doctors show specific visuals and explain it in a more concise way,says Dr.Sebastian, co-founder of telehealth startup Doctorspring.
Patients feel doctors are more focused on them
Contrary to what others think that the method lacks the personal touch of medical practitioners, patients feel more connected to their doctors and that has something to do with the camera interaction. According to one doctor, patients feel like the doctors are more attentive to their sentiments and overall condition.
It costs more or less the same as the regular check-ups.
The costs of going to a regular clinic check-up and an online virtual doctor are more or less the same. Some even charge slightly lower than regular clinics. Plus, you get to save on petrol from going to and from the clinic.
How does it work?
Although some virtual clinics differ from platform to platform, this is usually how it works.
- First, the patient needs to pay a membership or subscription fee (for eg Teladoc) to be able to enjoy the perks the virtual clinic has to offer. Other companies such as Doctorspring, however, don’t require membership or subscription fees. You have to pay as you go.
- Once paid, the patient can now reserve a slot to the doctor he/she wishes to see. In some cases system determines the best doctor suitable for your condition depending on your symptoms and availability.
- Some virtual clinics already have their own applications where the patients can easily install their mobile phones to talk to the virtual doctor of their choosing. They could also use browsers, skype, and other video conference apps for their consultation sessions.
- Through video chat, the doctor will ask the usual questions like that of a regular checkup which includes symptoms, allergies, history, medications taken, etc. Because the doctor will not be able to examine the patient physically, he/she may require the patient to examine the affected area and report back the sensation felt upon inspection. The medical practitioner may also ask the patient’s permission to grant access to medical records that may help with the consultation.
- After the conference, the doctor may jot down a prescription. Other companies have affiliated pharmacy where the patient can easily get the prescribed medicine once the payment has been settled.
This is how virtual consultations work. More or less, they are quite the same with the regular personal check-up minus the minutes of driving to get to the clinic and queuing for turn.
Screening, Labs, and other Services
If ever a patient needs additional screening tests or labs in order to reach a diagnosis, virtual doctors or clinics will find a diagnostic lab near the area to order the needed tests. The patient will then head towards the lab and have the necessary tests done. The doctor will eventually get the result and will relay the diagnosis and prescribed medicine later on.
Limitation of Virtual Doctor Consultation
Virtual doctors can treat common illnesses and injuries but not limb or life-threatening conditions. Conditions like anaphylaxis, stroke, major head injuries, major blood loss, and other conditions that require immediate attention are not under the scope of a virtual doctor.
Also, virtual doctors are not allowed to prescribe medications that warrant personal examinations. These are some of the medications virtual doctors cannot virtually prescribed:
- Narcotics such as Oxycodone, Morphine, and Vicodin
- Stimulant medications
- Medical Marijuana
- Sedatives and sleeping pills
- Antipsychotic medications
Virtual doctors are bound by state and medical laws that assure patients of the security and privacy of their health records. This means that doctors should openly state that they will protect your privacy and health information at all costs.
Virtual doctor consultations are now getting noticed mainly because of the advantages it brings. This allows healthcare to be more accessible and readily available wherever you are. Although it has some limitations, this doesn’t have a say with all the advantages it brings. It is best to try it out and experience seeing a reliable and trusted virtual doctor yourself. You can check for free first consultation offers on various deals websites such as Groupon or Gomontana. After this, you may not want to go through all the hassles in setting up an appointment and seeking consultation with the doctor in the clinic.