The Health | October , 2020
| Innovation |
Around 80 per cent of diagnoses are made by good history taking alone , a further 5-10 per cent on examination and the remainder on the investigation . If suspicious or not confident to come to a conclusion , the doctor must advise their patient to go to a nearest clinic or hospital .”
A balanced approach to digital health
Patients and doctors must weigh the pros and cons of telemedicine to see what suits them
BY DR RASHID KHAN
The healthcare sector is
going through rapid growth in terms of digital health and is facing unavoidable disruption in the seeking of medical treatment during Covid-19 . Due to the Movement Control Order ( MCO ), healthcare providers , hospitals and clinics are rushing into telemedicine services to manage their patients virtually .
Telemedicine can be regarded as an essential “ temporary ” measurement to connect patients with cardiovascular diseases get the much-needed diagnosis , second opinion and urgent treatment . Indirectly , this helps in limiting clinical visits and reduce the chances of doctors as well as patients being exposed to Covid-19 .
During the MCO , telemedicine has proven that remote consultations are possible and has drawn attention from various healthcare sectors stakeholders to invest .
Telemedicine is not for everyone
However , telemedicine is not for all types of patients or medical conditions . There are potential disadvantages when using telemedicine over traditional care methods .
The doctor depends on the patient ’ s words and what the doctor is able to see during the video call to make a diagnosis . It is not the same as a physical examination . If a patient leaves out an important symptom that might have been noticeable during in-person care , this can compromise treatment .
Therefore , doctors must be always cautious and spend extra time to get a good history . Around 80 per cent of diagnoses are made by good history taking alone , a further 5-10 per cent on examination and the remainder on the investigation . If suspicious or not confident to come to a conclusion , the doctor must advise their patient to go to a nearest clinic or hospital .
A perfect blend of both digital and traditional method of treatment will be to do pre-consultation . The patient can do virtual consultation with the clinic doctor before making an appointment to visit the clinic .
Doctors are able to take an essential and comprehensive medical history of the patient before consulting the patient in the clinic . Indirectly , pre-consultation will reduce the time the doctor spends with each patient in the clinic ! Hence , the waiting time to meet the doctor in the clinic is also decreased significantly .
Telemedicine also could be used to “ virtual ” triage the patient and ensure the patient gets the right treatment at the right place . Doctors are able to decide whether to consult the patient earlier in the clinic or propose an E-referral to consult an appropriate specialist or centre . Cases of suspectedCovid-19 can be re-routed to a Covid-19 centre instead of exposing the clinic staff and the other patients .
The emergence of new e-illness
With the emergence of AI symptom checkers , people turn to their mobile devices to check their medical symptoms and buy medication via E-pharmacy . While it could be a convenient tool for a quick solution for minor illness , especially during the Covid-19 MCO , it can also cause unnecessary panic -Cyberchondria .
Cyberchondria is a new transdiagnostic digital compulsive syndrome . It has been described as behaviour characterised by excessive online searching for medical information that is associated with increasing levels of health anxiety .
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started , a variety of mobile apps have mushroomed and claim to provide information on Covid-19 . Excess of knowledge about Covid-19 symptoms only worsens confusion and apprehension about having Covid-19 .
It can lead to excessive health-related googling — the phobia of falling prey to the coronavirus , coupled with depression and anxiety .
A wise guru has quoted about the effect of food on the body :
“ Sugar is essential , but if taken too much , it ’ s detrimental . A balance is a must in life to gain optimum potential . And that applies to anything in our lives .”
Digital health does bring significant benefits to humans . Evolution in digital health will help us to take control of our health and make a better decision in health management .
But digital health must be used carefully to ensure it brings no harm to anyone . Every level of patient must be considered when introducing any digital health service .
Not everyone able to adapt and understand digital health and if not handled with precaution , will lead to medical negligence . Therefore , proper guidelines and regulations must be in place to ensure digital health providers , doctors , as well as patients understand the limitations of digital health and seek treatment via digital health with caution .
A balanced approach is to ensure digital health assists rather than to replace abruptly existing traditional practices . — The Health
Dr Rashid Khan is a Medical Officer at CVSKL