The latest trend emerging in India is the use of the internet for online medical consultations. The number of patients seeking advice online from doctors has increased manifold. To maximize your chance of making full use of an online consult, this article will help you to understand how to ask a question and the benefits of this mode of consultation.
A. Benefits of an online consultation:
1. No location boundaries – You can gain access to reputed doctors that otherwise are difficult to approach. Especially for tier 2 & 3 cities, rural areas where it is difficult to get good medical advice from expert medical professionals.
2. Cost effective – While an average doctor visit costs between 1000 to 1500 rupees, an online consult can turn out to be very economical with costs ranging from 50 to 500 rupees.
3. Saves the patient from making self-diagnosis – Many patients these days search on the internet and make self-diagnosis and do self-medication which may have a delirious effect on their health. It is always better to consult online rather than to make the wrong self-diagnosis.
4. 24/7 health support – Most online health providers offer 24-hour access to doctor consultation and convenience of receiving care at home.
5. The second opinion and follow-ups – It is also useful for seeking a second opinion regarding your disease and treatment provided.
6. Excellent for some specialties – It is of great advantage for certain branches like skin, psychiatry or sexology where a little examination is required or where patients might feel conscious in approaching doctor in person.
7. Online records storage – Your medical history and records are stored online for easy future reference.
B. What not to expect from an online consultation:
1.Not useful for emergencies – Limited use in case of emergencies, or when physical assistance is needed as in burns, accidents, wounds, acute severe pain.
2. Difficult in cases where an examination is required – Without a proper examination, sometimes it might be difficult to reach a diagnosis. So, it might not be possible for the doctor to give you proper advice considering the limitation of examination.
3. Delay in answering the query – Sometimes the doctor might be busy with patients so might not find time to answer the query within the limited time span. In all such cases, please wait for some time. Your concern and query would definitely be answered.
4. Lack of personal touch – Since the patient is not consulting the doctor in person, there might be lack of personal touch and rapport building.
C. What to keep in mind while asking a question online:
i) Please give all the relevant clinical history.
ii) Attach all the reports of the tests which you have got done.
iii) Attach the previous treatment records including prescriptions since it will help the doctor to give you more appropriate advice.
A doctor will give you advice as per his understanding of your problem which may be limited due to inadequate information provided, language barrier, lack of examination and many other issues. So, please provide all the relevant information so that it becomes easier for the doctor to reach to a diagnosis and answer your query.
In short, online medical consultation has its share of advantages and disadvantages. With technology making life simpler and easier, online healthcare is also gaining popularity by the convenience and access it offers.