“How good & effective a doctor in your pocket is?

Traditionally, remote healthcare has been limited to places without a practical or viable alternative for instance cruise ships, oil rigs so on. The technological advancement made it readily accessible however, if one isn’t too careful or proceed unknowingly, remote healthcare can be risky. Clinicians debate whether remote care especially doctor video consultation is appropriate for initial assessment of a new patient!

In many areas, this particular trend has returned phenomenal results with more than 85,000 remote consultations taking place annually especially via smartphones. It’s often considered a life-saving service due to many advantages especially the broader reach, ease of accessibility and consultation with a medical professional which is a big relief itself.

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Doctor video consultation & clinical practice
When compared with actual clinical practice, remote healthcare has certain risks that simply can’t be ignored; making diagnosis of even the simplest problems too complex at times. Take for instance a patient showing symptoms of cough can be thoroughly checked with a stethoscope as it can differentiate between different diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumothorax or to identify pleural effusions that can be life threatening at times. A simple cough can even be an indication of heart failure.

There’s a whole list of medical conditions in our clinics that can’t be effectively assessed via remote healthcare. For instance certain neurological anomalies, enlargement of the spleen, liver or kidney and many other genital abnormalities can’t be assessed via video or conference call. One thing’s for sure, all these risks should be balanced with the growing demand of readily accessible primary care and remote access to services that supports population at large. No doubt, some services are too awesome but that doesn’t mean they’re medically remarkable!

Major diagnosis goes unnoticed
There’re heaps of studies evaluating e-health however, most focus on a particular medical condition or a therapeutic area instead of primary care and general practice. A detailed analysis concerning primary care found concluded that around 13-percent of all consultations subsequently require personal or face-to-face appointment. For some patients, it can be interpreted as time saving whereas for others, it’s only an addition to their cost.

While the number of additional appointments being generated is one thing, the accuracy of diagnosis being made remotely is important. A recent annual study indicated that more or less 600 patients opt for doctor video consultation especially when there isn’t a viable alternative; namely a physical medical facility.

In an urban setting, every one-fifth of the patient is concerned about dermatological condition which shifts or further widens the scope of remote care to the assessment of certain skin-based anomalies. The evaluator that is doctor on the other end of the video consultation must’ve operating license with years of experience in the medical industry or else one may end up with improper diagnosis.

Yet another systematic review comparing taking images and sharing them to the doctor, video conferencing and physical consultations concluded that in-person interaction with the medical practitioner especially in conditions related to dermatology is more effective; leading to proper diagnosis and treatment.

Risk of harm & inconstant quality
Perhaps one of the most incredibly thorough and detailed study on eHealth/telemedicine over quality and safety of healthcare was performed by Imperial College London. The result concluded about substantial variations in quality of healthcare and significant risk of iatrogenic harm (illness caused by inappropriate or flawed medical advice). As we speak, avoidable harm that is through delay in diagnosis is itself harmful for patients, especially those require immediate medical consultancy.

Conclusion
After all the detailed analysis, it can be concluded that doctor video consultation literally expanded medical coverage and significantly reduces the cost however, also pose certain risk especially with first-time patients. The rapid advancement in technology may just solve this issue in coming days thereby promising flawless diagnosis and treatment. Whether paid or free, you should be certain about using the app in the right way for perfection!