The internet that brought the world closer than ever before and it continues to strike down the barriers of time and remove various geographical impediments to provide an easy solution to the user’s problems. The internet is a big space that connects the whole world and people around, making it a global village. Let’s talk about the one particular advantage that makes it possible for us to benefit with easy healthy consultations from the list of doctors all around the world.
We spend much of our time in fixing and meeting appointments with our regular physician, whether it be for a regular check-up or when the need be. At times when we are sick or injured, it is not always possible for us to wait in the queue at a clinic and what we require is a fast and easy mode to connect and get instant recommendations from a specialist. The idea is the very foundation of online health services.
In this article, we learn about the background relating to health services on the internet, all about how online doctor appointment services work and the benefits and the limitations of online doctor consultations.
Background: Internet based health services
1998 was the year when a non-commercial health service in Sweden known as Infomedica started an online service ‘Ask the Doctor’ on its portal which gave its users full access to ask questions related to disease and health-related matters. The biggest benefit to the public was that they could get free consultations and a specialist’s advice instantly just by logging in the portal free of cost. The idea appealed to a huge number of people. An online survey conducted within the duration of 3 months which included the users of ‘Ask the Doctor’ service clearly displayed the reasons why they choose online health service over the traditional approach to health care services. 1036 men and 2586 women participated in the survey, each with their own answer on the question “Why did you choose to ask a question at Infomedica’s ‘Ask the Doctor’ service?”
The results were revealed as such:
- 52% of participants mentioned the ease of convenience to be a reason.
- 36% of participants mentioned the benefit of anonymity a reason.
- 21% of participants choose the ‘Doctor’s too busy’ option a reason to try web-based health services.
- 16% of participants found the method quick and time-saving and thus, preferred internet-based health services.
- 13% of participants found it difficult to get an appointment and so, decide to try consulting an expert online.
- To 9% of participants, it is uncomfortable when seeing a doctor and so they choose online health services.
- 3% of participants couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit and thus, preferred a low-cost option.
Also, the accounts we get from the free-text answers state that some users were just ‘taking a second opinion’ asking health or disease-related questions on the portal online while the others expressed their discontent with previous doctors and considered a cost-effective option. A lot of people stated that their asking sensitive or embarrassing questions is a reason for consulting doctors online. The other reasons included the patient living far from regular health-care, asking information on behalf of relatives and lastly, a number of people also prefer consulting a doctor online as they find written communication the best method to put every detail in about health problems or injuries.
How the service works
The main objective of online health service is to address users questions based on health-related problems, injuries or diseases and share advice relating to remedies from health care providers. The services provided are free of cost which makes it more appealing to the public. Consultation with the doctor in matters relating to health or diseases has been coming to the scene lately. The mode of communication is mainly text-based which also includes communication with the help of e-mail or an internet server. The identity of the user taking consultations from a doctor is kept hidden.
One of the most innovative services in medical science for this century is Web-based Medical Services (WBMS). These services have not yet taken over due to some major impediments which are: the medical law limitation, perceived usefulness and behavior change. We are often skeptic about the usefulness and also the authenticity of web-based medical services. Often patients who are accustomed to the usual face-to-face clinic services overlook the value of WBMS. It is a different challenge altogether to make people believe in the fact that WBMS is everything they wish for in a face-to-face clinic service but better. It is a fast procedure, is cost effective and can be done from the comfort of your home. Also, the advertisement and public-endorsement of doctors being illegal, the growth of WBMS stands stagnated.
The WBMS process includes a mini-personal computer which is given to the patient who is participating in the service along with all other equipment designed specifically for the purpose. The computer or mobile and the other devices installed at the patient’s home measure physiological indicators. It is up to the patient to measure every physiological indicator which is then uploaded to the database of hospital automatically. The data is then checked by the nurses. The nurses also note if any of the indicators are outside the normal range set by the specialists. The historical indicators are also taken into consideration before providing consultations and prescribing medications.
The Good and Bad of Consulting Doctor’s Online
It is very common today to try to find solutions to all our problems on the internet. We all have, at least for once, tried to self-analyze the nature of disease we were suffering from by looking our symptoms up on the internet. In recent years, a number of portals on the internet offer consultations from a specialist for free. You may check out these services online. All you have to do is take an online doctor
Now, the question is, why would to take recommendations from a specialist who have no idea about your medical history? Isn’t it obvious to prefer going to a clinic to get your check-up done for your doctor can decide the best for you? How do you trust the authenticity of something you are not already familiar with? There is a long list of questions that pop up as we dive deep into the topic. Let’s point out the benefits and drawbacks of online health services before coming to the conclusion.
Benefits of Online Doctor Consultations
- No location impediments – Gaining access to professional health care via the internet does not require you to travel, hurry all along to meet appointments with your doctor or worry about traffic jams or parking problems. It is possible to get help with just a phone call or e-mail without even getting out of the house.
- Cost-effective solution- The benefit of online doctor consultations are derived mostly by the ones who do not have health insurance as their visit fees to the doctors online are really cheap as compared to visits they need to pay in a regular clinic. Online doctors also suggest inexpensive treatments for the ones with no health insurance.
- Expertise- It is very likely for the ones who have just been introduced to the concept of online health services to doubt about the authenticity of this sphere of health care. It must be noted that online doctors promise security as well as expertise and therefore, their advice is worth the consideration. All you need to know is the right portal to log in. Take online doctor appointment and enjoy the benefits of WBMS.
- Improved self-diagnosis- Self-diagnosis often goes wrong, and people end up taking medications that don’t help or improve their condition. Taking medications without consulting a doctor is risky, and it can make the matter much worse. A better option for a lot of people who try to analyze their condition by looking up their symptoms on the internet is to talk to an online specialist about their problem just by logging in a portal. They shall find accurate remedies for their problems on the internet itself.
- Convenience- Online doctor services are highly convenient as the service is available all day and each day a week. The one seeking advice may choose to contact the doctor whenever he/she finds convenient.
Drawbacks of Online Doctor Consultations
- No knowledge of the medical history of the patient- One of the biggest reasons that we trust the advice of our family doctor or our regular physician is because they are familiar with or medical history which online doctors are not. Prescribing the medication right to treat a remedy can only be precise when the doctor knows about the pre-existing diseases, previous medications taken and is familiar with his patient’s anatomy. Therefore, this is a huge drawback of consulting doctor’s online.
- Physical examination- There is no scope for physical examinations online and therefore, the medications prescribed by the doctor is limited.
Consulting doctors online is an easy, convenient and cost-effective way of treating yourself. Go for online doctor appointment online and live the experience yourself.