Online medical care is a recent phenomenon. It’s hard to know how much you can trust these “doctors” that are based halfway across the world. The internet may have created an illusion of intimacy, but what is it like to see a doctor in real life or over videoconference? From Western-trained doctors to traditional medicine practices, here are some facts about online medical care.
Online Medical Care: A New Phenomenon
Online medical care is a relatively new phenomenon. The internet has been around since the 1990s, but it only recently became possible to have online appointments.
It used to be that doctors would meet patients either in their office or over videoconference. But now, patients can reach out and book an appointment before they’ve even met their doctor in person. It may seem like this practice is a good way to save time in your workday.
Is Online Medical Care Safe?
The short answer is yes. Studies show that it’s safe to consult with a doctor online. It can be helpful to talk with a doctor if you’re on a tight budget, don’t live in the same country as your physician, or want to speak to someone who understands the medical language of your native language. Some doctors are even offering consultations over Skype for just $20-30 USD an hour.
Additionally, there are many benefits to using online medical care. For one thing, you can take the time and energy you would spend traveling for an appointment and put it into other areas of your life. The convenience of connecting with a doctor from home may be ideal for people who don’t have access to transportation or who cannot afford a visit to their family physician.
What Can You Expect From An Online Doctor Visit?
With online medical care, you’ll be expected to do most of the work. You’ll need to be proactive before, during, and after you visit with the doctor. If the doctor has a question that might require more information, they may ask it over chat.
For instance, if you’re coughing or complaining about something, your doctor may want to know if you have an upper respiratory disease. They will ask for a photo of your throat or nose so that they can see if there is any congestion or discharge from your nose or mouth. For any type of physical examination, you should follow up with photos of whatever area needs to be examined–a rash on your arm.
Traditional doctors will still do a physical exam themselves because they can’t always trust the picture that’s sent in by videoconference. However, doctors trained in Western medicine are more likely to rely on pictures than face-to-face visits because they’ve been trained to take a single symptom as representative of a larger problem. In other words, they trust pictures more than they trust their intuition when it comes to diagnosing illness and injury.
You can also expect some unusual questions from your online doctor. These doctors are used to different cultures and languages which means you may get asked about food and cultural habits like eating pineapple or wearing shoes in the house–or even sleeping habits like how often you change bed sheets or sleep naked!