Virtual online consultation is emerging as a method to treat the patients without actual interaction with them. The patients can communicate the clinicians through mediums such as online portals, telephone, emails, etc. In the current COVID-19 situation the need for improvement in online consultation has increased (Calton et.al, 2020). This report analyses the different perspectives of online consultations. The appropriate model of communication that should be adopted by the healthcare provider will be discussed. Every invention has its pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages of online-consultations will be discussed. Lastly, the report will analyze the benefits of e-consultation for a particular group of patients and whether online consultation can completely replace face-to-face consultation would be analyzed.
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COVID-19 pandemic situation around the globe has caused many problems in different businesses. A major problem has arisen in the Healthcare sector regarding consultations and treatment (Calton et.al, 2020). It is not appropriate for the patients as well the doctors to step out of the home and conduct face-to-face appointments in every case as this can cause infection to grow. Thus, the requirement for online consultation has increased. Technology plays an important role in conducting online consultation as effective communication is a prerequisite for the consultations to be appropriate and successful (Foronda, et al., 2016). A local healthcare provider with the idea to invest in the technology for online consultation must use aninteractive model of communication because the model is a model explaining two-way communication between the sender and receiver for the effective communication (Lisbeth, 2015).
Sender/Receiver: clinicians and patients are the senders as well as a receiver as the communication is two way.
Code: The symbols or method used for communication such as graphs, medical reports, verbal, and non-verbal communication.
Noise: Technical faults in the telephone lines, network issues, etc can cause a communication barrier.
Channels for the communication can be multiple such as discussed below.
Telephone: this would be the easiest channel for the patients as well as clinicians to connect for consultation, prescription, and treatment (Lisbeth, 2015). Multiple telephone lines must be available as the number of patients is large and the number of doctors is less. Thus, the waiting can impact the customer's satisfaction.
Email: It is considered a professional, safe, and easy channel for communication. The clinicians can respond to emails with pre-described templates designed according to the symptoms of the patients as described in their email. A standard protocol for an email consultation should be designed for effective and fast communication (Foronda, et al., 2016).
Video-conferencing: According to the research, video calls are less preferred when the doctors and patents are interacting for the first time, and easily preferred when they are known to each other. The effectiveness of video conferencing is higher than other channels as clinicians can view the symptoms and prescribe the best treatments.
Text messaging: There are various mediums for text messaging that easily available. The application for text messaging also allows the transfer of pictures, videos, and voice. So that if anyone of these is required for probing the patients. It is facilitated.
Online portals: The website must be designed with an inquiry section where the patients can contact for bookings, sharing symptoms, reports, and access for the medical prescriptions and reports.
Telemedicine: It is the combined use of digital communication technology to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients (Lisbeth, 2015). The patients can use various digital methods to keep track of their health such as blood pressure, sugar level, etc, and the reports can be shared through mediums. And the clinicians must respondto the same medium chosen by the patient for their convenience.
Apart from the communication between patients and clinicians, there must be effective communication between the staff to measure the effectiveness of the e-consultations. Periodic meetings must be planned to set the policies and methods of treatment.
Virtual online consultations are a demand for the future because of the advancement of technology and the busy schedules of people which makes it difficult for the patients to visit the clinicians in person. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of telemedicine or virtual online consultations, that are discussed below.
After the analysis of both advantages and disadvantages of virtual e-consultations. It can be seen that the disadvantages can be kept under check with precision and the use of better technology to connect with the patients. The balance must be maintained to outweigh the disadvantages with the effective and efficient use of technology for communication and treatment. The e-consultations would benefit the entire system and patients. However, some groups of patients would be more befitted with this approach. The group of patients is enlisted below.
However, online consultationsare effective in treating patients, saving time, cost, etc. It can not completely replace the face-to-face appointments between the patient and clinician. The reasons are enlisted below (Edwards et.al, 2017).
The report analyses impact of e-consultations in the Coronavirus situation and future. The report discussed the model of communication appropriate for a healthcare provider investing in technology for e-consultations. The interactive model of communication explains the process of communication between patients-clinicians, clinicians-clinicians. The communication must be effective for effective treatment. Advantages of e-consultations such as time and money savings, the privacy of patients, reduced score of depression cases, etc. are discussed along with disadvantages like data theft concern with sharing of medical reports through digital media, the late response from patients or clinicians, etc. it can be concluded that improvement is required in the online consultations and protocols for treatments are yet to be designed to improve the effectiveness (Hinckley et.al, 2020). However, the virtual online consultations can never completely replace the in-person visit due to the reason mentioned above.
Calton, B., Abedini, N. and Fratkin, M., 2020. Telemedicine in the time of coronavirus. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
Carter, M., Fletcher, E., Sansom, A., Warren, F.C. and Campbell, J.L., 2018. Feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of an online alternative to face-to-face consultation in general practice: a mixed-methods study of webGP in six Devon practices. BMJ open, 8(2), p.e018688.
Edwards, H.B., Marques, E., Hollingworth, W., Horwood, J., Farr, M., Bernard, E., Salisbury, C. and Northstone, K., 2017. Use of a primary care online consultation system, by whom, when and why: evaluation of a pilot observational study in 36 general practices in South West England. BMJ open, 7(11)
Eklof, M. and AhlborgJr, G., 2016.Improving communication among healthcare workers: a controlled study. Journal of Workplace Learning.
Foronda, C., MacWilliams, B. and McArthur, E., 2016. Interprofessional communication in healthcare: An integrative review. Nurse education in practice, 19, pp.36-40.
Greenhalgh, T., Vijayaraghavan, S., Wherton, J., Shaw, S., Byrne, E., Campbell-Richards, D., Bhattacharya, S., Hanson, P., Ramoutar, S., Gutteridge, C. and Hodkinson, I., 2016. Virtual online consultations: advantages and limitations (VOCAL) study. BMJ open, 6(1).
Hinckley, N. B. et al. (2020) "Orthopaedic Documentation and Coding Primer for Telemedicine and Electronic Patient Communication for the Covid-19 Pandemic," Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Ahead Of Print.doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.00649.
Hussain, A., Shah, S., Dave, S., Ramkisson, R. and Quadri, M.F.A., 2020. Remote Consultations. Sushruta Journal of Health Policy & Opinion, 13(2).
LisbethBlom MSc, R., 2015. The situation, background, assessment and recommendation (SBAR) model for communication between health care professionals: A clinical intervention pilot study. International journal of caring sciences, 8(3), p.530.
Shi, V.Y., Komiak, S. and Komiak, P., 2017, July. Are you Willing to see Doctors on Mobile Devices? A Content Analysis of User Reviews of Virtual Consultation Apps. In International Conference on HCI in Business, Government, and Organizations (pp. 224-238). Springer, Cham.
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