The digital consultation is an application in the field of digital health. This is a consultation in which doctor and patient are not together in one room, but exchange information via video-capable devices. The online consultation saves travel and long waiting times, especially for older people who are no longer mobile.
The virtual doctor’s visit is identical to a face-to-face visit. After the consultation, symptom and illness clarification, the doctor can issue sick notes and prescriptions. The costs are also covered by the corresponding statutory or private health insurance companies, just like in a regular consultation.
The advantages of a digital consultation are shorter waiting times, no need to travel to the doctor’s office and a reduction in the risk of contracting other pathogens. The general waiting time to get a doctor’s appointment is also shortened, as the patient does not necessarily have to resort to their own family doctor. The doctor is also protected by digital consultation hours, because he or she is also exposed to fewer pathogens. This has proven to be extremely useful, especially in times of pandemics.
However, the digital consultation also has its limits. Contact with the doctor is something personal and based on a high level of trust, so the virtual version can have a deterrent effect. In addition, the doctor’s perception is limited, so that not all symptoms may be recognised. Palpating and listening to patients is also not possible in a virtual way. The diagnosis is based only on the obvious symptoms and the subjective descriptions of the patient. In addition, no instrumental diagnostics or sample collection can take place.