Technological advances have already reached the medical field in several ways. Both in the use of new technologies for increasingly sophisticated treatments and diagnoses and modernity working in more peripheral environments.
In today’s article, we will address this theme of online doctors in more depth
Electronic medical records
The use of electronic medical records, scheduling online appointments, and other virtual management methods, for example, are already part of the reality of many online doctors, promoted thanks to the digital transformation.
Going even deeper, have you ever thought of making an online medical consultation and solving your health problem without having to leave your place? In some regions of the United States, this is a reality.
American telemedicine companies already provide 100% virtual assistance in simpler cases, such as the flu, colds, urinary and respiratory infections.
Electronic prescription of medicines
An electronic drug prescription can be sent directly from the patient’s device to the pharmacy of choice. Or, it could be the close monitoring of a cardiac patient being carried out even in his own home.
But, the communication tool does not work that well. There are ethical and legislative values that prevent this type of direct interaction between the online doctor and the patient. Despite these precautionary barriers, other possibilities can still greatly benefit the health field in the country, promoting democratization in access to health.
How does telemedicine work?
The telemedicine works primarily through two areas:
Telelaudos: remote examination reports are issued, presented in health software, and received by the responsible physician. This is already a recurring practice and it is widely applied. This is the most developed modality so far;
Telecare: already in telecare, no medical care at a distance, ie, the professional can, online, perform many of the routine clinical services in the digital environment, such as conducting screenings, health guidance, consultation between physicians for the diagnostic conference, monitor patients in critical cases, among other situations that require care by the doctors who monitor the cases.
In both cases, telemedicine works through the use of technologies that allow the connection between the participating actors (networks of doctors, doctor and patient, doctor and clinic, among others), reducing frontiers and leveraging resources for carrying out the practice of medicine for those in distant places.
How is telemedicine used?
According to the Medical Code of Ethics (CEM), health professionals cannot consult or prescribe the treatment without physical examination, except in cases of emergency or impossibility.
In this case, how can telemedicine contribute to medical practice in the country? In many ways! Some of these benefits are:
- Decrease in the number of medical appointments;
- Reducing distances;
- Improvement in the quality of care.
- These advantages apply to both the physician and the patient and can revolutionize the way medicine is approached today.
Next, we will explain how online consultation can be the tool to enable each of the points mentioned:
- Reduction in the number of consultations
Although a direct consultation between doctor and patient online is not possible here, telemedicine can avoid unnecessary face-to-face visits, which contribute to the overcrowding of doctor’s offices and health posts.
Think, for example, that a person makes an appointment with a general practitioner and this professional, given the problem, needs the help of a specialist to make the diagnosis. In most cases, the patient will be referred for another consultation, with another specialist, etc.
Teleconsultation allows the first doctor to be able to communicate with another specialist at that time and avoid the excessive number of consultations currently being made.
The Federal University of Rio Grande does Sul has already managed to remove more than 100 thousand people from the SUS line by solving problems via online consultations.
Through the use of these new tools, simpler problems can be solved more effectively, avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals.
- Decrease in distances
In the country, there is a great deficit of doctors in more remote areas and with a more precarious quality of life.
Although the number of online doctors who graduate from universities and the number of students starting medical degrees is not small, there is a large concentration of these professionals in urban centers. But that does not mean that they cannot help the population of these places, even at a distance.
The use of online consultation is an alternative to offer medical assistance in regions of the country where access to hospitals is very difficult. Small towns in the interior, even though they have health posts, often do not have specialized doctors in certain areas of medicine.
In these cases, the professional responsible for the patient must make an online consultation with another specialist working in the area that the patient needs.
- Cost reduction
The cost reduction occurs for both the patient and the doctor. For the patient, it represents the possibility of being able to receive care from a specialist in another city, even when he is away, without the need to pay for transportation and accommodation.
For the doctor, on the other hand, he can often perform online care at his own home, saving the cost of renting an office, water, electricity, telephone, among others.
Thus, everyone wins and there is no reduction in the quality of the service provided to the patient, one of the main points that cause concerns in customers.
- Greater knowledge about the patient
We often fail to say a few things to the online doctor in a personal consultation, either because we are ashamed, or because the consultation time is scarce, or due to forgetfulness. In online consultation, there is a greater possibility that the patient will talk to the doctor, more calmly, with greater confidence and comfort.
Especially in the face of delicate health problems, this can be a great option for creating a more peaceful bond between doctor and patient, generating greater knowledge about the latter, a great differential for the diagnosis of certain problems.
Besides, by issuing reports on wearable devices, the physician can be aware of what is happening to the patient in real-time. For example, the doctor can instantly receive an update of cardiac changes in the patient and, thus, contact family members and make the necessary interventions as soon as possible.
- Speed of service
Online service guarantees greater speed, mainly due to the reduction in the delay rates existing in this type of consultation. After all, when we talk about face-to-face care, we need to take into account the patient’s travel time, traffic, consultation time, among other issues.
In online care, some of these variables no longer exist. For example, your patient will no longer be late because he was stuck in traffic – he just needs to be on time, available, connected to an online device to perform the service.
- Improvement in the quality of care
Do you dream of receiving the diagnosis and treatment to solve your problem in just one consultation? With telemedicine, this is getting closer to reality.
It is very common, after the first consultation, to be referred to another specialist and from this one for exams, who may or may not need another doctor for the evaluation.
From the online contact between these professionals, medical care can become a more complete and efficient service. It avoids, for example, the patient having to make several small consultations, which often last less than the displacement itself.
Another great benefit is the improvement in the quality of care. A second opinion, or even an aid for the realization of a certain method, can give more security to the doctor and the patient.
The person being treated will know that more than one health professional is aware of their case and the procedure that is being undergone.
Despite the legal limitations of online medical consultation, these tools can be a very interesting source of development for the medical service.
In the future, the legislation may adapt to the realities that arise with the increasing use of smartphones, as well as video calls and instant messages.
What do you think of this new scenario that is being created for medicine? Give your opinion in the comments!