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One year of video consultation during the pandemic
 

March 24, 2021 | Elena Schwenk

General practitioners, specialists, clinics, dermatologists, psychotherapists, midwives - since the Corona pandemic, they have had one thing in common: video consultation allows them to consult their patients safely and without a mask. Something that has become more important in this time than we could have imagined a few years ago.

The virtual consultation hour as a digital means of communication between doctor a patient has not just been around since the pandemic began a year ago, but it has since taken on a whole new significance as a possible tool for containment. Whether it's consultations, requesting forms, monitoring a healing process, or clarifying a medication plan, video consultation has evolved. Not only has the legal basis been changed to make it easier for doctors to carry out and bill for consultations, but the circle of those who can include them in their daily routine has also been expanded.

Video consultation conquers new areas

Psychotherapists in particular have been relying on video consultation for talk therapy since 2020. They are followed directly by family doctors, for whom the digital meeting prevents overcrowded waiting rooms and offers an efficient alternative to on-site visits to the practice. Questions such as "The wound looks better already, should I come back to the practice for a checkup?" can often be answered using video consultation solutions such as CLICKDOC. Dermatologists and midwives also benefit from the visual contact with the patient at a distance and, thanks to video transmission, can recognize whether a digital consultation is sufficient or whether a practice appointment is advisable. For emergency physicians, video consultation is used to support emergency medical services in the field while providing information about the type and severity of an injury before arrival at a clinic.

In order to convince even more doctors and other healthcare professionals of the digitization of healthcare and thus also of video consultation hours, new approaches are being taken at the campus of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Westfalen-Lippe in Dortmund with the digital model practice "dipraxis". Sample video consultation products can also be tested there.

Win-win situation for doctor and patient

The digital meeting between doctor and patient has proven its worth over the past year, as it enables treatment without the doctor or patient having to expose themselves to the risk of infection. Masks are not necessary during a doctor-patient conversation via video consultation, which creates closeness - despite the distance. They also offer time savings for both patient and doctor, and can help assess cases of illness and the necessary treatment. This leaves more time for cases where a digital consultation is not enough.

Acceptance in society

A study¹ from December 2020 shows: For one in three Germans, video consultations became more important during the corona pandemic. Nevertheless, the proportion of those who have considered them in the event of illness has been much smaller. Thus, at least for the time being, there is still a discrepancy between the perceived benefits and acceptance in society. To overcome this, it is primarily the doctors and healthcare providers who are called upon. They must not only offer video consultation, but also inform patients about the possibilities. After all, another study² shows: more than one in two physicians is certain that treatment via video consultation works just as well in certain cases as it does in a face-to-face appointment on site.

Politics promotes video consultation

Politicians are also interested in further expanding video consultation hours. For example, since the pandemic began, there have been several legislative changes in favor of video consultations:

April 2020:

Removal of the 20 percent limit on billable video consultations; online consultations are now unlimited.

October 2020:

The incapacity for work guideline amended by the Federal Joint Committee in July comes into force: in future, sick notes will be possible via video consultation if the insured person is known to the treating doctor's practice and has already made a physical appearance there.

October 2020:

The first draft sketch of the 3rd Digital Law shows: German Health Minister Jens Spahn wants to advance video consultations. For example, online meetings between doctors and patients are also to be conducted and billed during off-hours. In addition, the key points paper envisages that fully digital patient records should be possible, even if only digital contact has taken place. More details on the new digitization law can be found here.

Conclusion for video consultations

One thing is certain: Even after the end of the corona pandemic, video consultation will remain an integral part of communication between doctors and patients and will even gain in importance. This is true not only in Germany, but also in other countries. During the pandemic, for example, video consultation also gained enormously in importance in the USA, Switzerland, France and Italy.

 

Sources:

¹ https://datapuls.social-wave.de/

² https://www.bitkom-research.de/de/pressemitteilung/corona-beschleunigt-die-digitalisierung-der-    medizin-mit-unterschiedlichem-tempo

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