Health and Fitness

What is Telemedicine and how does it work?

Today, thanks to Telemedicine, it is possible to consult a doctor by videoconference via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This makes it possible to cope in certain geographical regions that lack medical facilities or medical professionals and in a health crisis such as a pandemic to avoid the displacement of people and the spread of the virus. The doctor can thus make a diagnosis by questioning you (clinical diagnosis), prescribing additional examinations, treatment, or a physical consultation to deepen the consultation if necessary.

Around the world, it is subject to different regulations. Telemedicine is common in several countries and regions including many parts of Europe and North America.

However, some people are not tech savvy and are not able to carry out a teleconsultation on their own (elderly people, people with disabilities, etc.). In these different cases, a nurse can come to your home to set up the teleconsultation on your phone, tablet or laptop.

Then, during the video call with a doctor, you will have the nurse at your bedside. At the doctor’s request, the nurse can take your vitals (oxygen saturation, blood pressure, temperature, etc.) or even perform a palpation. The doctor thus has direct access to all the medical information necessary for your treatment. The nurse becomes the eyes and hands of the doctor!

What exactly does the term Telemedicine mean?

Telemedicine is a term that you have undoubtedly heard of and is a practice that is becoming more common in developed countries. Telemedicine is and will be widely used in the context of the coronavirus pandemic because it allows contact between the patient and the doctor without risk of contamination. It is an asset for patients and security for relatives who have their elders at a distance in areas without doctors.

With the increasing medical desertification of rural areas due to migration to cities and large population centres that’s happening in many countries, the older settled inhabitants of these regions will increasingly resort to it. Another factor being the absence of doctors or local medical structures in these regions as they are not very attractive places to live and work in the eyes of health professionals.

Are Teleconsultants real doctors?

By law, Telemedicine must be practiced by a licensed and registered doctor who has the right tools. We are talking about digital tools here. Only approved services allow Telemedicine to be practiced because they must comply with specific standards, particularly in securing the information exchanged since it is medical data.

Before proceeding with this remote consultation, the first thing to do is check if your attending physician/general practitioner practices Telemedicine! The easiest way to do this is a quick phone call to your doctor. If your regular GP does not offer teleconsultations, you can simply contact another doctor via a Telemedicine tool.

Also, it’s important to note that the law stipulates that the health professional who perform this consultation must have access to your medical files and history.

Only two scenarios allow you to waive the above rule:
• Minors under 16 years old with no assigned doctor.
• During a medical emergency, for example, in a case of suspected COVID-19.

What happens after you make an appointment for a Teleconsultation?
• Once you have made an appointment with the doctor by phone or via one of the Telemedicine sites, the doctor sends you a link that will allow you to connect via your computer, your tablet, or your smartphone to a videoconferencing tool.
• During your consultation, the doctor will ask you various questions to make a diagnosis and assess your condition. Teleconsultations last on average 10 minutes, but their duration may vary.
• At the end of the Teleconsultation, your doctor will send you a prescription if he considers it necessary. This prescription can be sent to you electronically or by post. The prescription may relate to medication or home care by a nurse.

Confidentiality in the use of Telemedicine:

The video conferencing tool must respect stringent rules for encryption of personal and medical data and information exchanged.
Medical data is considered very sensitive. Processing of this data must comply with strict data protection and quality control rules that ensure the software used is secure and reliable. Exchanging personal and health-related data within the framework of medical confidentiality, you would not want your conversations and exchanges to be accessible to just anyone!

The best place for a Teleconsultation?

You can do it from home if you are equipped with the necessary equipment (tablets, computers, or smartphones). Teleconsulting is also accessible in health establishments such as clinics, nursing homes, or hospitals.
Telemedicine booths are also an option. Health 4 Development, which manufactures these types of cubicles, supplies it to many different organizations. For example, you’ll find these cubicles in certain offices of the global accounting firm, Ernest & Young!

How much does a Teleconsultation cost?

Just like a conventional face to face consultation, the price of a Teleconsultation depends on the doctor. Teleconsultation costs are usually covered by third party health insurance policies. Plus, you can also claim a tax rebate for the consultation. Payment is typically made by electronic means (credit/debit card).

Telemedicine frequently asked questions (FAQs):

My regular doctor is not available; what should I do?
In times of emergency, like a pandemic, you can simply consult a doctor other than your regular physician. Contact your local health authority to check if a another doctor in your area offers Telemedicine. Alternatively, go directly to a medical appointment booking site and book a Teleconsultation with another doctor.

Does a Teleconsultation cost more if it’s urgent?
No, the price of a Teleconsultation costs the same no matter what the situation. Prices are generally the same as a face to face consultation.

Is there any limit to the number of Teleconsultations I can have?
No, you can consult as many health professionals as you wish; however, it is essential to keep in mind that in times of crisis, such as in a pandemic, the health services experience an increase in patients, so it is important not to overload the system by overusing it.

How will the Teleconsultant know for sure if I have a medical condition?

During the Teleconsultation, the doctor will probe for specific symptoms. A private nurse by your side as part of a Telemedicine service, the nurse can collaborate with the doctor. In the absence of a nurse, the doctor knows the questions to ask and the information to diagnose you.

Are there any limits to what a Telemedicine doctor can prescribe?
No. There are no restrictions on what the doctor can prescribe. This ranges from sick leave to medication to medical equipment if necessary.

If I have symptoms of COVID, should I make an appointment for a Teleconsultation?
If you have symptoms without breathing problems, you can indeed make an appointment for a Teleconsultation. At the first signs of pain or difficulty breathing, it is important to call for an ambulance immediately.

Are waiting times longer for a Teleconsultation?
It can be challenging to determine in advance whether your GP or those in your area have long waiting lists. However, some companies offer appointment booking services with doctors. They allow you to wait in a virtual waiting room until a doctor is available.

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