CityPress - - Tenders - AN­GELIQUE RUZICKA busi­ness@city­press.co.za

You don’t have to imag­ine a world where you no longer need to sit for hours in a crowded wait­ing room for your doc­tor’s con­sul­ta­tion be­cause it’s al­ready en­tirely avoid­able. Telemedicine – the re­mote di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of pa­tients – is avail­able to you if you’ve got in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity and gives you the abil­ity to talk to your doc­tor over the phone or via plat­forms such as Skype, cut­ting out the time spent in wait­ing rooms and, in some cases, re­duc­ing costs too.

It makes sense that we are head­ing to­wards a fu­ture in which doc­tors and pa­tients will be able to con­sult each other re­motely be­cause there are many rea­sons peo­ple find it dif­fi­cult to see a doc­tor face to face. In South Africa, peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas may find it dif­fi­cult to com­mute to a city to see a spe­cial­ist, oth­ers else­where might work long hours and have to fight their way through traf­fic, mak­ing it hard to get to ap­point­ments on time.

The cost of med­i­cal treat­ment is es­ca­lat­ing all the time and one of the many rea­sons for this is be­cause doc­tors have to main­tain their of­fices, pay staff and ex­pen­sive in­sur­ance. Telemedicine could help cut costs as it would go a long way toward re­duc­ing ad­min fees. There are some telemedicine providers that al­ready of­fer South Africans the abil­ity to con­sult with med­i­cal ex­perts at a re­duced rate or even for free. Here we pro­vide an over­view of few: 24/7 BABY LINE

BabyLine is a pae­di­atric telemedicine com­pany that of­fers 24/7 tele­phonic ad­vice and help for pa­tients with ba­bies and tod­dlers un­der the age of three. Us­ing this ser­vice is free if you be­long to med­i­cal scheme Boni­tas. “The ser­vice will be avail­able through Health24 on a sub­scrip­tion ba­sis shortly. The an­nual sub­scrip­tion would equate to roughly the cost of one ER trip,” says Dr Iqbal Kar­ba­nee, founder of Paed IQ, BabyLine. In the mean­time you can ac­cess the ser­vice via live Face­book chat with pae­di­a­tri­cians through the Clicks BabyClub page on Fri­days be­tween 10am and 12pm or chat with a pae­di­a­tri­cian on Wed­nes­day from 4pm to 5pm on the BabyLine Face­book page – all for free. GUIDEPOST

This is a spe­cial­ist telemedicine provider which coaches diabetes suf­fer­ers. Pa­tients are of­ten re­ferred to this ser­vice through their med­i­cal schemes. Gra­ham Rowe, CEO of Guidepost, re­fuses to out­line the costs in­volved but high­lights that this ser­vice pro­vides a lot of care that would have cost pa­tients more in time and money. It also pro­vides pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment in that it en­sures that pa­tients are tak­ing their med­i­ca­tion cor­rectly, eat­ing the right diet and do­ing enough ex­er­cise to man­age their weight. “We fo­cus on diabetes and peo­ple with on­go­ing dial­y­sis. Diabetes costs med­i­cal schemes R13 bil­lion a year. So that’s what’s driv­ing our pre­mi­ums up. That cost is mostly hospi­tal cost and that is be­cause the dis­ease is not un­der con­trol. So med­i­cal aids pre­fer to in­vest money in preven­tion,” he points out. HELLO DOC­TOR

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