The constant flux in technology has affected every industry known to man. Every aspect of each person’s daily life is somehow touched by technology. In many ways, technology is aimed at increasing convenience and efficiency. For the health sector, there is an increasing prevalence for the use of video consultations as a means of primary care. It can either be through the use of existing video chat methods such as Skype or through a customised method such as an application that can be downloaded by patients.
A virtual doctor appointment is just as effective as going to a doctor in person, minus the long wait time. In the UK, this technology is also being explored and many healthcare providers are following suit with the help of the NHS. Here’s why video consultations and virtual doctor appointments are worth the attention they are getting today.
Many patients that need primary care services may have difficulty with travel. For example, a mother who has just given birth needs to connect with a post-natal health clinic. It is extremely troublesome for her to commute to a clinic. Instead, a video consultation can help her get the care she needs while eliminating the need to travel. This is also applicable to the elderly, as well as individuals who live far from the nearest primary care clinic.
Helping patients care for themselves
One of the goals of medical practitioners is to encourage patients to learn to care for themselves and their loved ones. Virtual consultations help in this area by giving the patient confidence to manage their own health without being dependent on in-person treatment.
Helps minimise the risk of the infection spreading
Another notable benefit to virtual consultations is that they can restrict infection to an area. When a patient has the flu, for example, he does not run the risk of spreading the infection to other people while traveling to a clinic or waiting in a doctor’s office with other patients.
Certainly, as with any technology, there are still challenges that need to be overcome. A primary hindrance to the widespread use of virtual consultations is the cost. While there are already some pioneers in the use of an application that promotes virtual appointments and online symptom checkers, there is still much to be explored in this area.
Additionally, there is also the danger of a patient’s over-dependence on virtual appointments. When this happens, patients may forego getting in-person treatment when it is absolutely necessary. In this regard, there is a need for health practitioners to set a limit and have better-defined parameters in determining the extent of intervention that will be given through virtual consultations.
There is also a need to ensure that video consultations consistently offer the efficiency they promise. This is the best way that the process can be embedded into the day-to-day culture of individuals. Aside from this, proponents of this technology should also be able to address other concerns, especially those related to online information security.