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Online Consultations with a Doctor Offer Essential Benefits

Rapid and remote: since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemics, telemedical services all over the world have been showing a dramatic increase. They have been used, among other things, for online medical consultations. We talked to Professor Dr. Robert Thimme, Medical Director of the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Infectious Diseases at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg about the benefits for patients and doctors.

What are the benefits of an online consultation for the patients?

There are several benefits for the patients, for example saving time and travel costs, high security and privacy, as well as the possibility to get to know the doctor and ask first questions prior to further more invasive diagnostic or therapeutic interventions.

Moreover, they allow for fast communication possibilities and many other benefits.

And what are the benefits for the doctor?

The doctor gets a first important impression about the status of the patients, their main symptoms and concerns, which are central for diagnosis and therapy, of course, next to all additional examinations. It is also an ideal tool to answer questions on the spot or to discuss clinical follow-up examinations, like radiological or laboratory results performed elsewhere.

What risks can arise, if the doctor doesn’t see his or her patient in person?

The main risk is that the doctor cannot take a physical examination, which is often very helpful. Also sometimes personal contact helps to establish a trusting relationship.

In what cases has  an online consultation proved to be especially beneficial for the patient?

There have been several situations in which an online consultation found a quick solution to important questions about treatment modalities, could give important advice about next treatment steps, or could calm the patient by discussing and explaining new findings. 

Especially oncological patients may benefit from online consultations: talking to a doctor online makes it easier for the patients to choose a hospital and helps to understand what expenses may arise as well as to establish the preliminary treatment plan.

I also remember a very striking case that my colleagues from the Neurocenter had to deal with. A young girl’s father contacted them via an online consultation. The girl had been suffering from very strong headaches. Our neuroradiology specialists evaluated the radiological images and found a life-threatening aneurism in the girl’s head. An urgent surgery was indispensable. The girl was immediately brought to Freiburg by plane and was operated the next day. Thus, an online consultation was able to save a child’s life.

The office for International Medical Services of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg (IMS) has been offering online consultations to its patients since 2007. 

If you or your physician seek to discuss your treatment options and diagnostic strategy with our medical specialists, IMS will promptly organize an online consultation for you. An interpreter is available during the whole online consultation.

For more information please contact: telemedicine-ims@uniklinik-freiburg.de or fill in the online form.