Covid-19Health ITTelemedicineThe Virtual Doctor Appointment in a Post-Covid World

The new normal has been around for quite some time. We work, we study, we find comfort in a digital environment, waiting for the pandemic to be over. Waiting for the old normal to be back. Covid-19 has changed the rules of life as we know it and instead lays new foundations for effective online communication, especially with our healthcare providers.

Recent research highlights the important role of telemedicine in Covid-19 prevention given that physical distancing is the safest way to avoid transmision so far. What about future times when this health crisis is over? How will the global community benefit from using virtual doctor appointments beyond the pandemic?

What Is a Virtual Doctor Appointment and How Does It Work?

Telemedicine refers to every appointment patients have with their doctor that excludes being physically near each other. The way a consultation, diagnostic or regular follow-up happens via digital devices, connected to the Internet. If a patient needs to meet a doctor and physical examination is not per se obligatory, he/she may conveniently schedule an online appointment with the medical doctor (MD) and receive just the same amount of professional care and devotion as the actual face-to-face interaction. 

  • How Can They Help?

Prospective telehealth users should be aware that a virtual doctor appointment is not very different from the old visit to the doctor’s visit. The main topic is as always the patient’s physical or mental health and current medical issues. and Not only are virtual doctor appointments getting more popular because of the Covid-19 provoked lockdown, they also score high in terms of patient’s satisfaction, as reported by a Clinical Commissioning Group, with 83% being “quite or very satisfied“.  

  • Why is Virtual Healthcare Crucial?

There are numerous benefits of virtual healthcare as additional tools to the whole branche. Needless to say that telemedical services are a great relief for the healthcare system as they ensure that patients, who would potentially put themselves and others at risk of spreading a contagious disease, are also appropriately taken care of. Some of the crucial advantages of telemedicine are that it offers real-time healthcare for patients, who for some reason (e.g. work, small children, living in remote areas etc.) can’t personally visit the doctor’s office. 

Other types of patients that will most likely benefit from telehealth are those with chronic illnesses that can be easily monitored and managed from a distance with the help of handheld devices like blood pressure or blood sugar monitors. The data can be then transferred to the doctor for assessment of the health condition and further recommendations. 

Video conferencing with your doctor or chatting with him/her when you need adjustments in medication or symptoms check has never been more accessible. With the Swiss-made communication tool MYX that complies with the highest security regulations worldwide, patients have the opportunity to protect both their health and personal data, while using the chat. MYX was created with a privacy by design approach to ensure highest privacy protection standards, which lays the basis for a good doctor-patient relationship in an online environment. 

How to Make the Most of the Appointment?

Now, let’s talk about what is necessary to keep in mind before scheduling your next virtual appointment. While there are not fixed rules of how, the next step will help you make the most of the doctor’s appointment:

  •  Prepare a Stable Technology

Have you ever thought about how your virtual appointment will go apart from discussing medical details? There are a lot of things that have to go smoothly in order to have a satisfying online telemedical experience. For example, you need to have a stable connection to the Internet that allows you to communicate with your MD without disruptions. Be serious about your appointment and try your best not to lose your and your doctor’s time due to connectivity issues or other technological distractions such as poor mic quality.

  • Track Your Vital Signals 

Body temperature, blood pressure or symptoms of coronavirus infection – all these vital signs need to be tracked as they give away your current health condition. Thanks to mobile apps and other handy at-home devices that allow you to measure your vitals, you can share these with your doctor and ask for competent advice. For your online appointment make sure you have your collected data prepared and ready for doctor assessment. 

  • Choose a Reliable Platform

Another vital step for making sure your virtual appointment goes as imagined is to take a moment and get acquainted with the platforms that your healthcare provider uses. Read patient reviews and user’s experience to know what to expect. For instance, are there lots of bugs reported? If yes, there might be a better alternative if you research a little bit more. MYX is a newly developed product by Dreamix and Pryv that makes sure personal data is protected according to highest industry practices. Patients can access their private information anytime and enjoy full transparency in regards to how exactly their data is used by giving their explicit consent after informed decision. At the same time, health care providers can easily focus on treating the patients without the stress of ever having second thoughts about attainment and management of sensitive patient’s data. It’s a win-win situation. 

Two bonus tips: 1) Always check whether your insurance covers telemedicine and to what extent to avoid unpleasant surprises in the form of high bills. Contact them and ask about eventual out-of-pocket costs to be well informed in advance. 2) During your virtual appointment, remember to ask questions. Doctors know a lot and they are trained to talk in simple words to patients but they can’t be sure whether or not you have fully understood everything. Be proactive and ask for further explanations if you think you’ve misunderstood something important. 

Why are virtual doctor appointments so popular?

The short answer is because of their convenience and accessibility. Even in a post-Covid world, the need for adopting secure and reliable telehealth services will remain. In fact, the adaptation of telehealth for mainstream purposes is among the top ten demanded actions in the USA for a better healthcare system in a post-pandemic time. 

For anyone who needs further convincing, here are three main reasons why virtual doctor appointments are getting so popular:

  • Immediate Assistance

Various tools such as virtual assistants, chat bots, instant messaging or real-time video meetings with your doctor have been invented. One of the huge perks such offers have is their easy availability. You have an experienced professional at the palm of your hand or as a real-time virtual presence in your living room. Just like you have your online banking and can make use of it whenever you need to, your medical need can be likewise assisted. Immediately. 

  • Flexibility

Virtual communication channels with your doctor allows both patients and doctors to be flexible. On the one hand, patients can request an appointment in a desired time interval and receive medical consultation just like during an in-person doctor’s visit. On the other hand, MDs can easily avoid over-crowded waiting rooms and thus minimize the risk of virus spreading. 

  • Lack of Needless Travel

To go to a doctors office means commuting to it using some kind of vehicle which can sometimes mean high costs and planning extra time. You may just need a renewed prescription, or a follow-up but you have to arrange your schedule around this appointment so that you can be physically present there. 

To sum up, in a post-Covid 19 world we will observe a global tendency towards telemedicine as an additional healthcare delivery channel. Safety-first regulations today are primarily about the coronavirus but there are lots of other dangerous pathogens that can be transmitted in the doctor’s office e.g. influenza virus causing flu or echoviruses transmitting common cold. A virtual appointment can protect you from exposure to them, can save you time and additional travel costs all while receiving the same quality of medical care.

Covid-19 is the unexpected push towards prioritizing what is valuable. The whole world was given a new perspective on how telehealth is working to bring a valuable asset to traditional face-to-face doctor’s visits. If we can have such a powerful tool in our arsenal, why stop here?

Author’s bio:

Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background mixed with interests in psychology drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration. 

This post was sponsored by Dreamix

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