I am a neurologist treating disorders of brain, spinal cord and nerves. I like educating public and doctors about various aspects of neurological illnesses. This blog is an attempt towards the same. I work at Apollo Hospitals, (Jubilee Hills and Kukatpally branches), Hyderabad (phone-0091-40-23607777/60601066/9618204512; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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TELEMEDICINE CONSULTATION IS AS GOOD AS TRADITIONAL CONSULTATION FOR NONACUTE HEADACHES
The traditional method of consultation involves a patient visiting a doctor's clinic. The doctor takes history, performs clinical examination, orders investigations (as necessary) and prescribes medicines. This is the "gold standard" when it comes to accurate diagnosis and correct treatment.
However, there are a number of limitations for the traditional method of consultation:
1. Lack of time on the patient's side due to his/her work/family assignments;
2. Lack of a specialist in his native place;
3. Limited number of choices of specialists in his native place;
4. Higher costs (travel costs, need to skip work, etc).
In this digital era, telemedicine consultations are feasible. This could include email chatting, audio or video consultation. By this method, a patient can choose a doctor in any part of the world, timing of consultation can be flexible and the costs are lower.
However, the major concern is the accuracy of telemedicine consultation. This issue was addressed in a recent research in patients with nonacute headaches. About 200 patients were treated on the basis of telemedicine consultation and another 200 patients with traditional method of consultation. At the end of one year, there was no difference in the outcomes in either group.
There is a fear of missing secondary causes of headache such as brain tumor, bleeding in brain, infection of brain, etc. One would need to provide 20,200 consultations by telemedicine to miss one such case. That is an extremely low risk.
In conclusion, telemedicine consultation seems to be an ideal alternative to traditional consultation for patients with nonacute headaches.
This study was published in recent issue of Neurology Journal (July 14, 2017 issue) and can be accessed at the below link: