Telemedicine, or how to solve your medical doubts by a chat

You leave holidays and, from experience, you know that sometimes these dates can bring some scares: the happy ones Gastroenteritis, untimely sunburn, unexpected fever… Would not it be ideal to be able to take you to doctor Travel and turn to him when you need it? That is precisely what allows the telemedicine or distance medicine, which uses technology and connectivity possibilities to overcome the time and space limitations of traditional queries.

It is not necessary to be lost in a remote place to have difficulties to go to the doctor. This is demonstrated by a study conducted by Sanitas in collaboration with the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress (SEAS). Your data concludes that 61% of Spaniards on more than one occasion have stopped going to the clinic due to lack of time and that at 10% this has not happened once, but many times. So, if Muhammad does not go to the mountain … That is to say, if he does not give us life to make us impatient in the waiting room, it is the doctors who come to us through their mobile or computer. "Telemedicine allows the monitoring and remote control of patients with certain pathologies and represents a new channel of communication. It is comfortable and improves the accessibility and perceived quality of the patient, "argues Domingo Marzal, director of Innovation and Digital Medical Strategy at Sanitas.

The advance of the known as eHealth It can be a lifesaver during the stay in the holiday place, but in the long run, it will also serve decongest the offices and keep track of some diseases. Dr. Hans Abdon Eguía Angeles, member of the Working Group of New Technologies and Health Management of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen), predicts a promising future, although we still have a lot to do to reach the level of implantation of countries like Denmark, "where they already exist telemedicine protocols for emergencies, respiratory problems, dermatology, psychiatry, cardiology and even for fetal home monitoring for women with high obstetric risk ".

We have not reached that level yet, but we do have resources from which we can benefit. The key is to take advantage of its advantages, avoiding its drawbacks. We show you how.

Do not trust the doctor Google

This is the 21st century, so when we are bad and doubts appear, we resort to what we have at hand, which is no longer the grandmother, but the internet. Six out of 10 Spaniards type their symptoms or the name of your ailment on the internet to learn about what is happening to them or to look for possible remedies. "Google is a tool that, if properly directed, can be useful, giving the patient some control over his illness, improving even his general condition and adherence to treatment," says Dr. Eguía, expert of Semergen. The B side is that Not everything we read on the web is reliable. How can we be sure that the information is trustworthy? The doctor Hans Abdon Eguía and Marián García, pharmacist and nutritionist, better known as Boticaria García (boticariagarcia.com) offer us the keys:

How to know if the information is trustworthy:

  • To be reliable, medical information can never be anonymous. The authors must be health professionals or be advised by them. They must appear accredited.
  • If the website has a quality certificate or an endorsement from a health institution or scientific entity, better than better. For example: pacientesemergen.es is a website of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians that was born precisely from the need of patients to learn more about their pathologies and obtain adequate information provided by medical personnel. It has an area of ​​advice, another with information on several frequent pathologies and another with questions and answers.
  • The information that appears on the web must be updated.
  • We must ask the health personnel, when we go to consultation, to "prescribe" websites where you can find useful information for our specific case and that has passed the quality standards.
  • Before making any health decision, consult a doctor.

Chat and video consultations: the doctor answers

A sudden pain, a gastroenteritis in children, a concern about a chronic illness … Many times we feel the need for a immediate medical opinion that tranquilized usWe can be relieved, and that can be very useful for us. online consultation platforms, such as www.topdoctors.com, www.mediquo.com or www.saludonnet.com, that without the need of having any private insurance, doctors of all specialties, duly accredited (at different prices depending on the service), are available to us. Also the main insurers (Sanitas, Asisa, DKV, Mapfre …) have incorporated their offer telemedicine services to deal with an eventuality from any place, provided that adequate connectivity is available. There are several options: the query can be answered by email, chat, video consultation and even WhatsApp, with the possibility of attaching images (if it is a wound or a dermatological problem, for example) or additional documentation. After the consultation, the patient receives the diagnosis, the medical report and even the prescription with the prescribed treatment.

"In the case of the Sanitas video consultation, the patient can contact their doctor through their smartphone from anywhere in the world during normal business hours. Also, also emergency consultation video is available. It serves to clarify doubts, assess the need or not of an urgent or deferred face-to-face consultation, etc. ", explains Domingo Marzal, who assures that, at present, More than 1,500 doctors treat more than 450,000 patients and they use a new protocol developed by consensus of more than 160 professionals.

With regard to the public health in Spain, the situation varies a lot from one autonomous community to another. There are some interesting projects (such as teleictus in Catalonia and Asturias, teledermatology in Andalusia or teleradiology in Cantabria), but the most common in distance care is the telephone consultation They already include doctors from different places in their daily schedule, and teleconsultation between primary care physicians and specialists, to obtain their opinion on specific cases remotely.

In all the options, the consultations that work best are, obviously, those in which the physical examination is not 100% necessary … but they are many more than we believe. "Teledermatology, with the evaluation of images and videos; telecardiology, with the evaluation of electrocardiograms and even ultrasound tests in real time; telepsychiatry, with consultations to patients from their respective homes; telemarketing with management of wounds and injuries at a distance ", says dr. Hans Abdon Eguía.

Distance medicine in figures:

  • 23% of Spaniards say that if they do not go to the doctor it is due to lack of time. 14% do not do it due to long waits.
  • 54% of Europeans would have a consultation with their doctor through a webcam.
  • Of the patients who have tried the virtual consultation, 90% were satisfied.
  • 85% of patients would like specialists to recommend a digital resource to inform them about health or better control their pathology.
  • Sources: STADA Health Report 2019, Sanitas, Doctoralia, TopDoctors

APPS for your mobile: take them with you

If you install these applications on your mobile phone It will not be like taking the doctor everywhere, but almost. Because there are some who take the tension, they assist you to know how to act in an emergency, control your diabetes, remind you that it is time to take your mediation, shed light on all the doubts that assail you during the nine months of pregnancy … Perfect to carry with you always and do not neglect your health, wherever you are. Take note of some of the confidence that can be very useful to you:

SocialDiabetes: If you have diabetes mellitus type 1, this application can adjust your insulin dose in real time from the count of your carbohydrates and your blood sugar levels. If you have type 2 diabetes, you will track your behavior patterns that may indicate health complications.

I take care of myself: When routine is disrupted, the risk of forgetting to follow our usual treatment is greater. Endorsed by the Spanish Society of Family and Community Pharmacy (SEFAC), this application was born to make life easier for chronic patients and improve therapeutic adherence. Your alarm system will prevent you from forgetting medication and also has other utilities such as audio and video prospects, advice and a geolocation service to find the nearest pharmacies.

Easy first aid: A heat stroke, an untimely fall, a wasp or jellyfish sting … Would you know how to act if necessary? This app will help you learn and learn basic first aid techniques in an easy and simple way, through animations and illustrations, designed for everyone: children, youth and adults.

iPediatric: Are you a new mother and are you going to spend your first vacation away from home (and your trusted pediatrician)? This application developed by specialists of the Hospital de Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona has been conceived to function as a virtual office that answers hundreds of questions about the health of the baby. In addition, at the slightest doubt about whether you should go to the pediatrician or not, enter the symptoms in the application and, depending on its severity, indicates whether the baby requires medical attention.

Pain monitor: This app allows the patient with chronic pain to be monitored in the period between visits as it evaluates their daily status and sends alarms to physicians in the presence of relevant clinical events, such as the appearance of adverse effects of treatment . It has been created with the advice of the Pain Unit of the Hospital Vall d'Hebron.

Recipes without borders

Since April 11, presenting the health card, anyone can withdraw the prescribed medicines, regardless of the autonomous community in which they are. The electronic recipe makes it especially easy for chronic patients, who each month use the same drugs, because the doctor can prescribe the necessary medication for a year.

"The electronic prescription is programmed to calculate when the medicine will run out depending on the size and the prescribed dose. Days before that date arrives, due to having a certain margin, the possibility of withdrawing a new medication will automatically be activated. Since it is already interoperable, the patient can go to the pharmacy of your choice, anywhere in Spain ", explains Marián García.

This year, the process of interoperability of electronic medical records has also been completed. That is to say that if in any of your journeys through Spain you need assistance, the doctors of any hospital of the National Health Service will be able to consult the history and the reports of patients from any other point of the country.

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