Telemedicine is the use of digital and telecommunication technology to consult doctors virtually. It has proven to be very convenient for patients as they can easily seek advice online and have medication delivered to their doorstep.
Virtual consultation also works best for patients who are immunocompromised or are taking immunity-suppressing medications, such as those with rheumatic diseases, as it reduces the risk of exposure to infections at the hospital — especially during pandemic times.
Studies have shown that patient outcomes in telemedicine are not inferior compared to standard in-clinic visits. Patients at SKH have used telemedicine for many medical conditions including diabetes mellitus, gout, inflammatory arthritis as well as pre- and post-surgery follow-ups.
In a survey conducted amongst rheumatology patients in SKH over four months in 2020-21, 100% stated that they were satisfied with their teleconsult experience. About 80% said they preferred teleconsultation to face-to-face consultations, and 97% expressed that they will use teleconsultation again in the future.
Advantages of telemedicine
• Helps minimise risk of infections: Patients do not have to go to the clinic, thus reducing their exposure to infections and germs.
• Comfort and convenience:Save time and money on travelling as people can dial in remotely. It is also easier to fit teleconsultations into busy schedules.
• Healthcare accessibility: ‘Live’ video consultation helps the doctor and other healthcare professionals make accurate assessment and diagnosis.
SKH offers both video and telephone consultation service for patients assessed by their doctors to be suitable for a teleconsultation, instead of a face-to-face appointment at our Outpatient Specialist Clinics.
“Generally, telemedicine may be suitable for patients with stable or non-complex disease conditions. The first consultation has to be conducted in person so that we can assess if you’re suitable for video or phone consultation,” says Dr Stanley Angkodjojo, Consultant, Department of General Medicine (Rheumatology) and Clinical Lead for SKH Teleconsultation Service.
When is telemedicine not suitable
Not all patients, conditions and symptoms can be managed well over telemedicine. “Teleconsultation is not suitable if an in-person doctor visit is required to evaluate the patient due to the severity of symptoms such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, recurrent vomiting, or severe abdominal pain where information from the physical examination is crucial to the doctor’s assessment, or if you need to undergo a clinical procedure,” explains Dr Angkodjojo.
Patients with cognitive, learning, visual or hearing impairments are also advised to choose in-person consultations where—along with their primary caregiver—they can discuss their symptoms and clinical history more clearly.
For more FAQs about SKH Telemedicine, visit here.
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