The global spread of Coronavirus is leading to a surge in demand for digital consultations with specialist doctors in private practice, according to digital access and online consultation platform Trustedoctor.
The company, whose technology is used by consultants in six countries to conduct remote consultations with patients across the globe, said the number of doctors signing up to the platform had risen three-fold between January and February.
Co-founder and chief development officer Lukasz Rzeczkowski told HM: ‘We have right now more than half a thousand individually selected specialists on our system and, as of now, I’m getting constant emails from people wanting the facility.’
Rzeczkowski said the technology meant doctors were able to schedule routine consultations with patients away from healthcare facilities, where they may be at heightened risk from infection due to age and underlying health conditions.
Former president of the British Thyroid Association Dr Mark Vanderpump, who has been using the platform, said: ‘The online service is proving particularly welcome during this time of anxiety about travelling while the Coronavirus is amongst us. Access to timely and expert medical advice is key to overall patient wellness but this can be a challenge if you are unwell, have tricky transport links or live in a different country to your preferred consultant.’
Digital GP consultations have become increasingly mainstream over the last five years, but secondary care has been slow to adopt the technology. However, Rzeczkowski believes the current COVID-19 situation could change the landscape and, he said, PMI providers that currently don’t cover remote consultations are already reviewing their reimbursement policies in light of the virus.
‘Our platform offers a structure that can save doctors time by offering a digital one-place solution for all their digital engagements including video consultations, second opinions and follow-ups including analysis of complex imaging,’ he said. ‘Unlike the majority of online platforms, which only offer a written report from a specialist doctor, patients have the opportunity to discuss the findings, challenge them and then follow-up. They can even invite their GP or family members to the conversation.’