Visiting the doctor in the UK can be a hassle. It often includes using up precious holiday entitlement, missing something you have previously planned, or having to opt for the earliest appointment at the crack of dawn two weeks away. What’s more, the strain on GPs and the costs of missed appointments don’t seem to be subsiding. Video doctors appear to be a solution to the problem, and people seem to be growing to the concept, but to what extent can they improve upon a direct meeting with a doctor?
There are no two ways to put it: visiting the doctor costs time. Not only that, but it’s often the case that the next available appointment is at the most inconvenient time for the patient. Video doctors remove the travel necessary for the patient and provide flexibility for both the doctor and the client.
Additionally, if a client perhaps has a symptom such as a rash or eye infection, this can be readily diagnosed by doctors through video calls (providing the camera quality and connection are good enough to show the doctor enough of the symptom). This means the patient does not have to spend the time and effort travelling to their GP and also leaves an appointment space available for someone in greater need of a face-to-face consultation.
This works both ways: not only does it allow patients who are unable to make the journey to the surgery to have a conversation with their doctor, it also provides doctors with the ability to check in on long-term patients without having to travel and lose time for house visits.
The majority of people in the UK now have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet with video call capabilities, unlocking a wealth of opportunities to consult a doctor. Not only is this a great benefit for people unable to make the journey to an appointment, but it’s also a blessing for workers who struggle to get the time off work or who are unable to visit a GP within their opening hours.
A recent study has also shown that video consultations for diabetes patients have been just as successful as direct meetings with healthcare professionals.
Missed appointments cost the NHS £216 million each and every year. Being able to avoid an appointment altogether by utilising a video call has the potential to save millions in healthcare costs for the whole of the UK. This is a benefit for everyone.
Unfortunately there are some things that video consultations aren’t able to effectively or safely deal with. There are times when a face-to-face consultation is the best solution.
Arguably, the biggest issue facing video doctors is their inability to evaluate and provide a detailed assessment of severe and complex ailments. Sometimes being able to have a doctor or nurse undertake a meticulous examination and appraisal will result in clear, concise, and effective remedy suggestions.
Conditions can come with subtle health issues or secondary effects that require specialist attention, regular testing, and monitoring. These are far more effectively treated with face-to-face consultations where physical examinations can take place and physiological tests can be done. Depending on the certain criteria needing to be met, it is shown that a video consultation can be a safe and effective alternative to outpatient appointments, but outside of these parameters, a direct appointment with a doctor is the safest choice.
Having the ability to visit a doctor or arrange a house call will always be the best option for some patients with specific needs – but it’s great to know a doctor is only a call away for advice when between appointments.
Blood tests and other physical examinations require a specially trained professional to perform correctly and safely. Whilst a video call with a doctor would be a great way to explain symptoms, discuss an ongoing healthcare plan, or receive quick professional advice, patients will still need to meet their doctor or nurse in person to undergo basic tests or outpatient procedures.
Despite the incredible leaps and bounds technology has made in recent years, there are still places that struggle to receive strong internet connectivity for a myriad of reasons across the UK. A poor connection when attempting a video call will run the risk of miscommunication through a broken line, unclear imagery for a doctor conducting a visual examination, and wasted time.
The ability to consult expert medical opinion from the palm of your hand is undoubtedly a benefit, but it’s not a magic remedy that will cure all ailments. There are limitations to the effectiveness of video consultations, but the benefits they provide can greatly increase patient satisfaction, relieve healthcare professional pressures, and deliver consistent diagnoses.
If you need something more than a video chat with a doctor but can’t face the long wait for a GP, download the Qured app and get a doctor to your home, hotel or place of work in no time at all.