International studies report on many benefits achieved by online appointments. For example, patients’ waiting time is shortened. During Covid-19 online appointments have reduced the risk of infection. Also costs for travelling to appointment facilities have decreasedand the quality of appointments has improved. Online appointments support elderly people’s coping at home.

Picture 1. Patient needs equipment for online appointment. Picture: Pixabay

Online appointments cannot replace all medical care. If it is not necessary to see patient for clinical examination, online appointments are a practical choice. However, the best way to benefit from online appointments is if doctor and patient have already physically met and have a patient care relationship.

Economical but patient needs equipment

Even though the number of online appointments has increased, face-to-face appointments have not decreased. This also means costs for patients from both types of appointments. Online appointments may save money, since patients save fuel, working hours and money. But online appointments can also increase costs. For example, patient must have equipment and knowledge on how to use communication technology.

“Online appointments may save money, since patients save fuel, working hours and money.”

Online appointments can be used in various situations

Online appointments are also used in case of virus and inflammatory diseases such as flu, ear infection or influenza. Nowadays also minor injuries, skin diseases, allergies and other chronic diseases are treated via online appointments. Research shows that online appointments have good results in the treatment of long-term disease treatments as well. There is reliable evidence of successful online treatment of diabetes, cholesterol, heart diseases and inflammatory bowel diseases. Some patients use online appointments for renewal of prescriptions. 

New solutions are expected from technology suppliers. In future video and health data could be transmitted reliably and in high quality. Online appointments utilize both private and public health care provides. For patients who live in sparsely populated areas where distances are long, online appointments make it possible to see doctor, nurse or therapist without long journeys.

Picture 2. Online appointments are used in case of virus and inflammatory diseases. Picture: Pixabay

Finnish patients are more satisfied with online appointments than traditional appointments.  Majority of the patients want to use online services in the future.  

So, online appointments can help in many problems today.

Blog writers: Anne Niskanen & Tytti Pekonen, Welfare and Health Coordinator- students from Savonia UAS.

Sources:

Tuononen, Salla 2019. Etälääketiede eli sähköiset kanavat lääkärin työvälineenä – kirjallisuuskatsaus. Pro Gradu tutkielma.  Lääketieteellinen tiedekunta. Helsingin yliopisto. https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/308275/Tuononen_Salla_Pro_gradu_2019.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y Viitattu 30.3.2021.

Seppänen, Anne 2020. Etälääkärikäynnit tuplaantuivat viime vuodesta. Verkkojulkaisu. https://www.laakarilehti.fi/ajassa/ajankohtaista/etalaakarikaynnit-tuplautuivat-viime-vuodesta/ Viitattu 30.3.2021.

Luoto, Riitta 2016. Etäpotilaana olo: terveydenhuollon Uber? Verkkojulkaisu. https://www.duodecimlehti.fi/duo13138 Viitattu 30.3.2021

Online appointments benefit many patients

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