Telemedicine is bound to change the way in which we will deal with our medical practitioners in the future
Hello Doctor is a mobile health solution that offers people direct and immediate access to doctors for health advice and information. Simply download the app on your phone and you can use it 24/7. It’s free if you are a member of any of Hello Doctor’s partners, including: Momentum Health medical aid, Metropolitan, Metropolitan Wellness, Medimed, Medici and OCSACare. It’s also available to you if you take out Momentum’s Myriad life insurance or sign up for Momentum’s FundsAtWork products. Unfortunately, this service is not yet open to the public. When City Press sent a WhatsApp message to the service it responded: “Unfortunately, at this stage, our retail channel is not yet up, but we are hoping to have it running soon.” MEDICI
Medici is also a messaging app, which has partnered with Hello Doctor, and it enables users to communicate virtually with medical providers via text, call or video at any time. The average Medici consultation will cost R200 but each provider will set their own consultation rate so this could vary. Unlike other telemedicine companies, Medici allows you to consult with your own doctor. But if your own doctor is not available you can consult one from the Hello Doctor service.
“Having a health concern is frustrating as it is and Medici makes what is usually a very stressful and costly experience, easy and affordable,” says Clinton Phillips, founder and CEO of Medici. MEDIGO
Medigo supports individuals and organisations looking for leading medical providers around the world. The costs of consultations vary and are dependent on your location, condition and the physician being consulted. Through this platform you can request second opinions and schedule medical treatment abroad. It has a network of 900 hospitals in 36 countries and a dedicated 24/7 patient care team. Asking for a second opinion could save you money. According to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2014, in up to 62% of cases a second medical opinion will yield a change in diagnosis, treatment or prognosis. “Second opinions are a useful tool in situations where patients are confronted with treatment recommendations, such as major surgical interventions, that will have a significant (health and financial) impact on their lives and it is not clear to the patient if there still might be alternative options,” says Medigo.
If you think telemedicine is right for you, check with your insurance provider and medical scheme to find out if they have partnered with any of the above platforms. Otherwise find out if your medical scheme, as in the case of Discovery, enables you to talk to your medical practitioner through a video call app or other virtual means.
Telemedicine is bound to change the way in which we will deal with our medical practitioners in the future. But for now it’s sadly not going to provide us with everything we need, mostly because of resistance and scepticism from regulators.
Back in 2013, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) warned healthcare practitioners and the public not to make use of Hello Doctor “or any other act of unethical telemedicine”. The CEO and registrar of the HPCSA at the time, Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, raised concerns over “business models that clearly contravene the HPCSA’s ethical rules and discourage face-to-face consultations between the patient and practitioner”. So generally, telemedicine platforms will provide guidance or coaching but when it comes to a serious diagnosis that requires a physical examination, you’ll have to see your doctor face to face.