It’s 5 o’clock on a Sunday morning. For the last day, Sandra, a 32-year-old businesswoman, has been having severe burning sensations when she passes urine which is foul-smelling and has a small amount of blood in it.
She has been trying to self-treat with Panadol and cranberry juice, but there is no success. The pain is like a knife slicing her lower abdomen every time she urinates, that she is afraid to do so. She really needs some kind of urgent medical intervention.
Her family physician is not working this Sunday, nor is he accessible. She refuses to go to the hospital in fear of a long wait, which will decrease her productivity.
Suddenly, a light bulb goes off in her head. She remembers shopping in a pharmacy and seeing an advertisement on the televisions there promoting “Stay at home, see your doctor anytime!” The ad was for an application/Web-based service that one could download on their smart device and see a doctor.
She downloaded the app and within 10 minutes she is having a video consultation with a doctor. The doctor assesses her as having a urinary tract infection and immediately sends a prescription to her nearest pharmacy. She gets relief within 24 hours and within a week all her symptoms are resolved.
The era of telemedicine
Telemedicine is the aspect of medicine which deals with treating patients remotely usually via voice, text or video communication. Its beginning dates back to the advent of the telephone in the late 1800s and has progressed throughout the years with the advancement of technology.
Telemedicine is not a substitute to a doctors office. Telemedicine use for non-urgent conditions such as bladder infections, coughs or colds, dermatological conditions, and the refilling of medications, such as for hypertension and diabetes, proves to be very effective, especially in this COVID-19 pandemic where social distancing is encouraged.
So what about subspecialities such as obstetrics and gynaecology ?
Simple vaginal infections can be described by the patient to the experienced gynaecologist on the platform and at that time he or she can decide whether it can be best treated on the platform or best to come in for an examination and any other needed investigations.
The advantage I believe for this field is counselling. Patients can be counselled on numerous topics with precision and clarity.
In gynaecology, topics for detailed discussion include:
2. Uterine fibroids/Endometriosis/PCOS
3. Contraception and HPV counselling
4. STI counselling
5. Prenatal counselling
6. Pre-surgical consultations (for patients awaiting surgery and same can be explained)
In obstetrics, patients can be counselled on what to expect in pregnancy and also virtual consultations for pregnancy visits can be done in the low-risk patients where the OBGYN can address any problems the patients may have.
I believe that in any speciality, telemedicine can effectively be applied in the correctly selected patients. A senior and experienced specialist will know when to insist on an in-office visit for the particular condition.
Telemedicine is here to stay, we should embrace it and all facilitate its use and most importantly follow the best practice of medicine.
MDLink’s secure and convenient platform provides instant access to a doctor on your computer or smartphone in minutes. If you are interested in accessing the benefits of telemedicine, register for FREE today at www.theMDLink.com or download the FREE MDLink Health app.