Before you start working with online consultations, take a moment to think which patient groups you should aim at. Digital healthcare is not suitable for all patients or cases and cannot replace every single physical appointment. However, it can be an excellent complement, especially for certain patient groups. We have listed 7 examples of areas where online consultations are becoming increasingly popular.
1. Young persons clinics
A growing demographic for online consultations are young people – teenagers and young adults. There are several reasons for this, but an important factor is that young people are met in their own arena – the digital one. For example, certain cases in the sexual health area require physical examinations, but a large part of the consultations consist of conversations and counselling with a midwife or a social worker. These conversations can easily be carried out via video and you may get more information from the patients if you send out forms that they can fill out.
2. Skin disorders
It can be difficult to determine when it is time to seek care for skin disorders. Perhaps it is not a priority to take time off work to have eczema or other skin issues that are not life-threatening examined, even if they can cause great discomfort. A telephone call is not the best solution either, as it can be tricky to find the right words to describe rashes, sores, or blemishes. Online consultations add an important dimension – the patient can show the area with the skin issue via video and can provide a more detailed history in a form before the call starts. The healthcare professional will then have a detailed background before the consultation and can decide whether a face-to-face appointment is necessary or not.
3. Parents and children
As a new parent, it can be nice to not have to wake up and dress up your toddler to rush out to the children’s centre, or the doctor’s if your child is ill. Children centres can offer video consultations as a complement to face-to-face consultations that include measuring and weighing. Video consultations also offer a channel for counselling and evaluation of diseases, where the possibility to show a child’s rash, e.g. chickenpox and other visible problems is very helpful. Close and effective communication with the health centre helps parents feel secure, but, above all, it prevents the transmission of infections from one toddler to another or an elderly patient in a waiting room.
Would you like to know more about what to think about before getting started with your virtual clinic? Read our guide: Get started with your virtual clinic.
4. Mental health
More and more psychologists and social workers offer video consultations to their clients, which is hardly surprising – Very few aspects actually distinguish a physical from a digital consultation when the focus is on the conversation. Anxiety, depression, and social phobia are some of the afflictions that are treated nowadays with video consultations. Higher accessibility can result in more people reaching out to seek help, but healthcare professionals can also reap a number of benefits. A study by the Karolinska Institute (in Swedish) indicates that at least four times as many patients can get help with Internet-based CBT compared to CBT in another format.
A person who has suffered an injury or has myalgia would perhaps want to avoid moving unnecessarily. It can be of great value to get help online from a physiotherapist. Video consultations are a good solution for, e.g. follow-ups of rehabilitation programs, as the physiotherapist can observe the patient performing various exercises and continuously assess development and treatment.
6. Nutritional therapy
More and more dieticians complement physical consultations with online consultations. Patients who have started making major changes to their diet due to, e.g. IBS, diabetes or weight management can get in touch with their dietician for questions and alignment more efficiently. In addition, this is a great advantage to patients with comorbidity, the elderly, and other patient groups with mobility challenges.
Physical consultations during an ongoing treatment often require follow-up conversations, regardless of the area they are categorised in. It could be a follow-up appointment with a GP or an outpatient appointment. Physical consultations are often redundant in these cases, and phone calls have several limitations. A follow-up appointment via video is a great arrangement.
Finally, we would like to emphasise that a lot of areas are suitable for online consultations – this is just a small selection. If you target individuals who are not linked to a specific problem – people with chronic conditions, the elderly who have difficulty moving, people with a weaker immune system or patients with contagious illnesses – the possibilities are even more.