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Telemedicine: Putting the Patient at the Center!

Hard to believe but this week I had my very 1st video consultation. I have been working in the digital health space for nearly 10 years, am very familiar with telemedicine solutions but never had a video consultation till now. And when your doctor is very much into digital, and lead the digital hospital, you don’t have much excuse… To my defense, I don’t go to the doctor very often, once a year for a checkup… and I very much like human contact so I enjoy having in person conversations (and I can test my doctor’s latest wearables). 

But i have to say, my 1st experience with video consultation, and the whole experience around it, exceeded my expectations. 

As many people confined at home, without possibility to go and see my doctor, I took a plunge and booked a virtual appointment. My insurance company has been developing a very complete virtual offering for a few years already, available 24/7, at the touch of a finger. 

I made an appointment with my doctor directly through the app. The advantage is that you can have access to a doctor whenever you want since there are always doctors on call spread across the country. Once it’s time for the appointment, you go online through the app, get into the waiting room and wait for the doctor to call you. And yes, the doctor actually calls you and you have to answer to start the consultation. The waiting room was a static screen with a message saying ‘the doctor will be with you shortly’ but I can imagine that in a near future, they could use that space to display ads or medical information or even include a symptom checker to start collecting information about the patients to save time during the actual visit with the doctor. 

My doctor appeared in his office, with a smile, as usual. Good image quality and good audio.

I always had some doubt about virtual visits because I felt like the doctor would not have a full picture of my health if he couldn’t examine me. But the image itself says a lot about a person: pale complexion, dilated eyes and others hints will catch the doctor’s’ attention. In my case, I have some wearables at home, so I took my vitals while talking to my doctors. But technologies are evolving at a fast pace. Some companies are already using simple cameras coupled with AI to monitor patients. I can imagine that in a near future, we will be able to measure patients’ vital signs without any sort of wearables or devices.    

Result of my visit: nothing serious but I need to do a blood analysis. What comes next is the best part of my experience. So bear with me.  

My insurance includes a service where the lab comes to your house to do the blood extraction. You don’t have to go anywhere. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 the service was not available for me as it was not an emergency. 

I had a follow up call with my doctor 2 days later to review the results of my blood tests. My doctor had not received them as I didn’t go to their partner lab, otherwise it would have been dropped directly into my patient’s file. In one click, I uploaded the PDF of my results from my computer into the secure chat and my doctor could see them in real time. He prescribed me some meds and the prescription was sent directly into the app in PDF format. 

And now the best part of my experience! Additional service of my insurance: They can have the meds delivered to my house at no additional cost under 3 hours. First, a very nice lady called me to double check my address (which I had not filled properly but I expected the app to pull it up to be honest) and the prescription. She then explained that she would contact pharmacies and will send a taxi driver to pick up the meds and bring them to my house. She even asked me If I had a favorite pharmacy where I would like them to pick up the meds from. That’s the embarrassing part… I live in front of the pharmacy….Less than 2 hours later, the taxi driver was at the door with my meds. I just had to pay for the medicine (that the taxi driver had paid to the pharmacy when picking up the order). Shortly after the same lady called me again to find out if I had received the meds and if everything was ok. That was my favorite part of the experience, the convenience of not having to worry about my meds, the human touch and the fact that they are using the local taxis to deploy the service. It’s a brilliant idea and supporting the local economy. It’s ideal for older people, people too sick or too weak to leave their home or people quarantining.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience this telemedicine service. I really enjoyed the whole experience, especially the human part, very present, although it was all virtual. It’s great to see how all those services are evolving around the patient, bringing healthcare to the patient.

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