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Positive. There is a very specific place for video consultation, directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It makes assessing a patient who suspects they might have COVID-19 infection easier. It is not advisable for patients with this infection to be seen in general waiting rooms, and this is an ideal modality to assess the patient. It is also an ideal tool for following up on the condition of a patient who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, but who is not ill enough to require hospitalization.
Video consultation works well for conditions not requiring a full clinical examination - for example, psychological complaints, or a dermatitis that can be assessed utilizing the video image of the patient.
This is still a new concept for me, so I currently do between 2 and 4 video consultations per day. However, I foresee that in the near future the general population will develop a greater awareness of the availability of virtual consultation as a modality of assessment and then I believe there will be a greater demand.
About 15 minutes.
My patients cope well with this concept. I noticed a bit of discomfort initially, but once they realize that their video consultation has exactly the same format as a normal consult in terms of history taking, they all relax.
The most important thing I have learnt is to put the patient at ease. It is important at the onset of the consultation to point out the limitations of this consult in terms of the inability to perform a physical examination. That is why it is important to screen the patients correctly to assess if a video consultation is appropriate for their complaint. It is extremely important to take as thorough a history as possible to avoid the risk of inaccurate assessment and diagnosis.
I felt a bit uncomfortable during my first one or two consultations as I felt a bit intimidated using technology in this way. However once you have done it a few times and you realize how easy and convenient it is, you soon become quite comfortable with these type of consultations.
My greatest obstacle was to familiarize myself with the process, and the only way to overcome this obstacle is just to do it! I have found CLICKDOC Video Consultation to be extremely user-friendly. I don’t think any of us have time to fiddle with a complicated interface and I have found the software to be straight forward. It is easy to log in, easy to link to a patient, and easy to conduct a consultation.
Video consultation will remain valuable and in fact a necessity as long as the COVID-19 risk persists, and unfortunately that is going to be until there is a vaccine against this illness. It has been recommended both internationally and locally that doctors utilize video consultation to initially assess these patients and then decide whether they are stable enough to be referred for testing and then managed appropriately once the results are available, or if they are ill enough to be referred for admission.