Rise in patients choosing “online” GP consultations over face-to-face appointments

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Experts at ChemistDirect comment on a report revealing a rise in patients opting for online treatment over traditional face-to-face consultations on mental health issues.

Online Doctor

Rise in Online Doctor Consultations

Online doctors are useful in diagnosing and treating conditions as well as relieving some of the strain on GP clinics.

More and more patients in the UK are avoiding the traditional therapist’s couch and opting instead for psychological support on the Internet.

The benefits of online therapy are obvious – firstly the flexibility of time and location, and increasingly, the anonymity.

Superintendent Pharmacist at ChemistDirect Omar El-Gohary said: “Online doctors are useful in diagnosing and treating conditions as well as relieving some of the strain on GP clinics and the schedule of working men and women.”

A controlled trial of 300 depressed patients published in The Lancet found that therapy via instant messaging helped more people to get better than standard GP care, while a small study from Zurich, showed the benefits of online treatment could last longer than face-to-face time. (http://bit.ly/19IFFal)

In countries such as the Netherlands, due to limited resources, patients can often wait up to six weeks to see a doctor, so Dutch scientists conducted a test to gauge reactions to online consultations.

The results showed that a total of 55 patients out of the 104 agreed to undergo online treatment, predominantly women, and those younger and lower educated refused. This is in contrast with results undertaken in the UK, where researchers felt that men were more likely to try the online treatment due to the anonymity of it.
(http://bit.ly/1cOPPWe)

Due to the fast speed in reply-time of online problem-solving therapies, the speed of a patient’s recovery can be offered as the first step towards the treatment of mental health.

El-Gohary added: “An online consultation could potentially reduce the connection between a patient and a doctor through a lack of direct, personal communication and obviously there are limits to the ability of a doctor to physically diagnose a patient. The format of consultation should only be used to supplement physical meetings between doctor and patient, not replace them entirely.”

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Samantha Smith
Chemist Direct
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