Online help from your doctor makes medical sense for everyone

Virtual consultations a strange new world

Nowadays, the idea of a doctor conveniently dropping by to attend to your medical needs, while you convalesce in your own bed, seems like a daydream. Historically, however, doctors attending to house calls were a primary channel of healthcare. In modern times, you have become accustomed to the process of finding the right doctor for your needs, booking an appointment and, very often, needing to travel to a second facility to pick up prescribed medication or follow up on a medical referral.

Your doctor makes house calls

Traditionally, a face-to-face appointment with your doctor was your first line of action when you have a medical problem, are feeling unwell, or need a health check-up. Nowadays, however, in a strange turn of healthcare evolution, we seem to be returning to the days of house calls. Enter the advantages of virtual consultations: you stay in bed, and a doctor can advise you without needing to knock on your front door, or asking you to visit them for an appointment.

Virtual consultations

Thanks to technological advancements, and backed by expert medical doctors who adapt to thrive in their profession, you no longer need to see a doctor to get the healthcare you need. This technological evolution, marked by the adoption of several different types of technologies that support and serve the health needs of people like you, is known as telemedicine. Telemedicine has evolved over time, from telephonic consultations, towards virtual consultations that not only save money, time, and resources; it’s saving lives too.

Optimising healthcare resources

In a health crisis, such as the current COVID-19 global pandemic, already-stretched healthcare resources need to optimise their operations, to manage and serve an unexpected caseload. Similarly, at a time where preventing viral transmission is a global necessity, removing your need to be in a crowded waiting room could, quite simply, save your life, and the lives of others.

Telehealth for the greater good

That’s where telemedicine and virtual consultations can serve far larger purposes than merely individual medical needs. Telemedicine, Telehealth technologies, and virtual consultations can provide relief to an overburdened system, enabling easy contact with a doctor, and easing off on demand within medical facilities.

Time and travel

Virtual consultations with a doctor also save time and money – two resources that you and your doctor are always keeping a close eye on:

  • Virtual consultations remove your need to travel and visit a medical facility in person, meaning you may only truly need to attend one in an emergency.
  • You no longer need to wait for an appointment slot to open up, and your medical questions get answered more effectively and efficiently. Not having to travel, in turn, saves you money.
  • Very often, you may feel unwell while you’re away from home. A virtual consultation helps to ensure a better outcome, by removing your need to be in the same location as your doctor.
  • When it comes to your medical history, it’s far easier and quicker to share online healthcare records with another doctor, than it is to wait for physical patient files to be shuttled from practice to practice. Virtual consultations are often linked to associated patient record platforms that facilitate easy sharing of your information, so long as it’s legally permitted and on a secure platform!
  • For your doctor, being armed with your medical history and associated healthcare notes saves time, and helps them make better choices for you, on a holistic healthcare level.
  • For doctors, the unit cost of conducting and attending a virtual consultation is remarkably lower than an in-person appointment.
  • And, at scale, the practice of virtual consultations could positively save doctors money too, as their need for stand-alone practice rooms could decrease, and waiting room space requirements can be downscaled.
  • Similarly, the need for back-office support decreases, with doctors being better equipped to rely on electronic health records for their patients, and supportive online platforms that facilitate virtual consultations.
  • Don’t forget: when the cost to run a virtual consultation is less than an in-person appointment, you’ll save money in the long run. Either the knock-on saving will come from your healthcare provider, or your direct payments will end up being less expensive than the cost of in-person appointments.
  • For doctors, the ability to schedule their availability towards virtual consultations saves time and workload. By optimising their caseload through virtual consultations, doctors are better equipped to make important healthcare decisions for clients, without waiting to find a file in the back office.
  • By opting for virtual consultations, medical practices are easily equipped to scale up when hiring new team members, specialist medical professionals, or administrative support. Eliminating a significant cost-to-company, medical practices can expand their patient base without needing to expand office space or pay increased rentals.

Telehealth and your data

Telehealth providers abound.  Protecting your personal data while using telemedicine is of paramount importance. Does your provider ensure their telemedicine facilities and virtual consultations are secure and do not pass on any unnecessary personal data? If you’re not certain of the level of protection over your personal data, ask to see a Data Protection Notice and a Data Protection Impact Assessment.

If you are a Telehealth provider, get in touch with ProPrivacy Contact and we’ll help you ensure information security and confidentiality, both in times of crisis and in the eyes of the law.

Philipa Jane Farley

Written By Philipa Jane Farley

Philipa is the lead consultant and auditor at ProPrivacy.  With clients as far afield as Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Germany, Spain and other such exotic locations, besides Cork and elsewhere in Ireland, Philipa enjoys a broad view of the state of data protection, privacy and cyber security worldwide.  Philipa’s passion is manageable data compliance for SMEs.

Philipa is a qualified teacher besides holding a computer science (Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence Programming) and electronic and intellectual property law (LLB) qualified. She is trained in constitutional (fundamental) rights litigation and enjoys a good debate.

Philipa has over twenty years of experience working in different sized organisations and sectors on operational, governance, risk management and compliance matters. She is an analytical and focused person that enjoys a challenge in the workplace. She loves technology, systems and people and has a passion for showing people how technology can make life easier and better. She understands that the world is driven by data today but privacy is paramount. Responsibly developed AI excites Philipa for the future.

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