E-Consulting: Seeing a Doctor from the Comfort of Your Home

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Imagine a newly posted doctor somewhere in rural India looking at the symptoms of a disease that he is not familiar with. He remembers that his college professor worked in this part of the country and sends him a text message describing the symptoms. The professor replies by asking the doctor to test for disease X, else perform a test for disease Y.

Now, picture another scenario. You develop a very itchy bump on your leg. You call your doctor and he asks you about your symptoms in detail and then asks you to take a picture of the bump and send it to him. After a few minutes, the doctor advises you to buy a specific antibiotic cream. If you are surprised, then you need to know more about e-consulting now.

E-Consulting

Welcome to Electronic Consulting:

The two scenarios above describe e-consulting in its simpler forms. This is where medical advice and opinions are shared by electronic communication. E-consulting has been enabled by instant communication through wired and wireless networks. At the simplest level, it involves calling your doctor and asking for advice on the best vitamin supplement to buy.
Highly sophisticated e-consulting practices allow experienced surgeons help less-experienced surgeons perform operations while guiding them via video conferencing.

E-consulting has brought several advantages to doctors and patients alike, and convenience is the biggest advantage. It promises to make medical knowledge more accessible to people in remote places, enabling treatments and operations that were otherwise impossible.

How Does E-consulting Differ from Face-to-Face Consulting?

Conventional doctor-patient interactions are face-to-face. The patient makes an appointment with a doctor depending on the availability of the doctor.  Meaning the appointment is given to a patient according to a time convenient for the doctor.

In places like India where the doctor-patient ratio is low, that means the patient has to wait for a long time to access a doctor in high demand or has to travel a great distance to see a specialist.

E-consulting, on the other hand, relies on digital consultation to enable doctor-patient interaction. It can be via SMS, calls, or video conferencing. The internet has enabled more convenient voice, video and data transmission these days. Therefore, nowadays, it is possible for a doctor to assess a patient’s condition over a tele-call or video call, and email a prescription, thus providing the patient with necessary medical attention fast. This process is highly convenient for both the patient and the doctor.  

What are the Benefits of E-Consulting?

Though it’s a novel idea in the healthcare sector and these waters are still being tested in India, it has the promise of reaching out and transforming many lives across great distances.

E-consulting offers multiple benefits apart from saving your time and money such as:

  • Stress-free:

In today’s fast-paced and high-pressure environment getting a doctor’s appointment is a stressful event in itself. You have to look for a convenient time in your calendar, maybe even take a day or half-a-day off from work and hope that the doctor’s calendar will accommodate you and then get an appointment. On the appointed day you may have to queue at the reception and await your turn, sometimes for quite a few hours. Post the consultation, after the doctor prescribes medicines you have to check in at the pharmacy to get your medicines and perhaps, wait your turn once again. All this can be highly stressful.

E-consulting, on the other hand, allows you to access your favourite medical expert from anywhere. In case of an issue where you simply need the doctor’s advice, you can send an email to the doctor and he or she will reply, making the whole experience very stress-free for both of you.

  • Time-saving:

E-consulting takes a fraction of the time that is required for a face-to-face consultation. If you are a busy parent, there is no need to take a day off to take your kid to the doctor. This is very time-saving for people with busy careers as well.  You can simply talk to the doctor on Skype and get advice on what your kid needs.

  • Privacy:

There are some medical conditions and issues that you might find uncomfortable to describe to other people, even your doctor. E-consultation allows complete privacy for issues such as STIs, any other sexual diseases, and mental health issues. During a conventional consultation a patient may feel awkward describing symptoms face-to-face to a doctor that too maybe with attendants or interns present.

During an e-consultation the patient has the choice of talking to a doctor over a video call or even over a phone call if he feels hesitant to show his face.  

E-consulting gives the patient the necessary privacy to explain some embarrassing conditions without holding back or hesitating.

  • Cost-effective:

Sometimes, a patient might need a specialist who is not based locally. Getting medical help in such a case might involve making arrangements for transport, hotel stay, and daily food in another city. This can be very costly for the patient and the stress itself can aggravate the medical condition.

Fortunately, e-consulting allows access to distant medical advice and resources, drastically cutting down the above costs.

When is E-Consulting Used?

E-consulting is used selectively. It cannot be used in emergency situations where there is an obvious need for timely life-saving procedures such as resuscitation. In any case, a doctor will call the patient in, if the case merits up close tests like scans and blood tests.

E-consulting is appropriate for non-emergency medical conditions especially those that need the doctor’s attention now and then, to check if the patient is progressing as expected. These include

  • Diabetes – This would include consulting about lifestyle adjustments in diets and exercises.
  • Pregnancy – The doctor can advise on diets, supplements and other antenatal care to ensure proper progress of the pregnancy.
  • Weight management– People looking for weight management can access information on weight loss diets, exercise routines and the doctor can keep a professional track on their efforts.
  • Gynaecological problems – The doctor can offer verbal consulting with the option of calling in the patient for urine or blood tests, if necessary.
  • Psychological counseling – This is ideal for e-consulting because the doctor can hold counseling sessions over the phone or Skype.

How Has E-consulting Changed Healthcare?

E-consulting has transformed the modern healthcare landscape in several significant ways:

  • Better Doctor Access – Patients are able to remotely access specialists without meeting them physically.
  • Convenience – Both doctors and patients have better flexibility in terms of time.
  • Cost-effectiveness – Doctors do not have to physically maintain offices in several locations but can consult from wherever they are.
  • Better Choice – Patients can now get a second or third opinion easily

E-consulting Potential for Remote Rural India:

Remote and rural areas in India do not have access to good medical resources. A big section of the populace lives far away from good doctors and specialists. Even if there are medical facilities in some areas, there is a high likelihood that the facilities are not staffed by specialists.  It is also hard to attract most specialists to work in remote areas.

This gap can be adequately filled by leveraging IT. Fortunately, fast internet is penetrating rural areas in India swiftly. It is possible to do instant messaging almost throughout India now. People with smartphones can easily consult doctors hundreds of miles away.  Videoconferencing smartphone apps help doctors determine the seriousness of an illness.

With e-consulting, patients in these areas do not have to travel to big cities for specialized medical attention.  As such, e-consulting has the potential to bring medical resources closer to millions of people living in the remote areas of India.

Why Choose Medlife E-Consulting?

Medlife E-Consult is a premier medical e-consulting team in India. It is a team of medical professionals who are dedicated to offering timely and cost-effective medical consultation. There are several benefits of using these services:

  • Always on call– There is always a medical expert on call when you contact us. You will get proper attention and fast referrals where the expert feels your illness requires a higher level of attention.
  • Easy interaction – Medlife has an app that allows fast ordering and other interactions that a patient might need. The smartphone app is freely available for download and use. You can reach medical help at your convenience and from the comfort of your home.
  • Free and quick home delivery – All prescriptions are delivered for free within 24-48 hours.
  • Discounted rates – All medicines from Medlife are discounted significantly to help all kinds of patients.
  • Trusted medicines – Medlife ensures that all medicines are genuine and of the highest quality.

If you would like to access quick and accurate medical information or advice, e-consulting with Medlife can offer you convenience, and save your time and money, also ensuring that your privacy is maintained.

Related Read: Buying Medicine Online Without Prior Prescription

 

News on Self-Medication & E-Consulting:

Chennai: 70% People Opt Self-medication Causing Life Threat

– 22nd Oct 2018

A Chennai based study states that 70% of people in the state take self-medication instead of consulting a doctor for a common cold, fever and cough. S Muthukumaran, a 29-year-old chemist from West Mambalam says that most of the people who come to his pharmacy state that they have and fever, body pain, and most of them do not have prescriptions with them.

All he does is that he provides tablets for them and some the medication that he provides is Azithral 500, an antibiotic that needs to be taken one a day for three days. Sometimes he also provides paracetamol in case a person approaching his clinic has a fever.

This has been brought to the notice of the health department and self-medication is dangerous and on the rise in the country. The health department states that it Azithromycin is an antibiotic that requires a doctor’s prescription and this antibiotic is prescribed only for bacterial infections. Azithromycin works well against infections such as H1N1, dengue and even common flu.

However, the health department advises all people to stop taking self-medication as it does come with a lot of consequences. This is because of a dangerous medical negligence incident that happened in 2017 where there was a case of a lot of people who died from dengue due to self-medication.  

According to a recent study in the state of Chennai, seven out of ten patients prefer self-medication rather than consulting a doctor. This study has been published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion and concludes that doctors and government bodies must caution the general public regarding the harmful effects of self-medication and the potential risks it involves.

e-Consultation Offer at Medlife

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