Since the coronavirus outbreak, online medical consultations have grown in popularity in Asia. What is an online medical consultation? An Online Medical Consultation (OMC) is now offered by many providers globally with diverse models and features. Online Medical Consultation (OMC) is the term used to refer to internet-based remote patient-doctor (consumer-provider) medical consultations. Patients may choose or be assigned to any doctor/ care provider who is available online. Physicians and patients can share information in real-time from one computer screen to another. And they can even view and capture readings from medical devices at a faraway location. Patients can consult a physician from the comfort of their home.
With rising numbers of infected cases across the globe, perhaps, there is a greater need for OMCs.
Here are the reasons why OMCs could be more appropriate in the coronavirus outbreak:
- Social Distancing
You may be hearing the term “social distancing” in relation to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets generated when someone infected coughs or sneezes. We know that these droplets extend about 3 to 6 feet from the person that generates them. If you breathe in the droplets, or they land on your eyes, nose, or mouth then you are at risk of getting infected. That’s why some of these recommendations about cancelling large meetings and gatherings where people are in very close contact with each other. In private clinics, people are in close proximity to one another. That is why it is could be safer to try to go for an OMC.
2. Easier for rural areas to gain access
Penetration of the internet and smartphones allowed people residing in rural and remote areas to have access to online healthcare and doctor consultation apps.
For example, in China, there is a severe lack of doctors and patients and patients often have to travel hundreds of miles to see a specialist. Online healthcare has long been seen as a promising sector in China.
3. Saves time and cost
OMCs are rapidly gaining popularity these days as more health insurers offer telemedicine services to help cut costs. At $40-50 they typically cost approximately the same as a traditional doctor consultation co-pay, but can also be as inexpensive as a $10 per month subscription.
Studies have shown that virtual care may effectively be employed to treat common problems such as flu, acne, deer tick bites, sinus, and urinary tract infections. Video doctor consultations can save patients a lot in time and convenience.
Singapore is an example of a country under lockdown where OMCs may prove to be extremely useful. In Singapore, the number of new cases daily began to rise. In the last two weeks, despite the task forces best efforts, the number of new cases daily rose to 50 new cases. Despite having contact tracing, for nearly half of these cases, it is unclear where or from whom the person caught the virus. Initially, many of the new cases were imported from overseas. Unfortunately, last week, Singapore began to have more local cases. This suggests that there are potentially more people out there who are infected and potentially not showing symptoms. Furthermore, they may be passing the virus unknowingly to others.
As such, Singapore has decided to impose stricter measures to act as a circuit breaker collectively to reduce the risk of a big outbreak occurring. There has been a lockdown on workplaces and schools.
In such a time as this, when mobility is hindered, online medical consultations, if done right, can be extremely useful in battling the covid-19 virus.