While 3G Doctor has been available since 2006 the new DocHealth service being piloted by the BMA means that every Doctor in the UK is now offered the opportunity to Skype a Doctor to consult about any Professional or Personal issues.
I think we should be able to learn lots about the future direction of medicine by looking at the design of this service and it’s evolution.
It’s interesting that the DocHealth service is billed as being ‘confidential‘ which is quite odd as presumably all Doctor consultations are confidential?
It’s very interesting that the service promises “no report writing unless specifically requested by the doctor using the service” as perhaps this means there are exceptions being provided to the Doctors that are providing the service as they would normally have a duty to report concerns about a colleagues fitness to practice regardless of whether or not the ‘Patient who is a Doctor’ specifically requested a report was written.
It’s great to see the service makes use of mobile video calling as earlier this year at the Irish College of General Practitioners annual conference Irish GPs gathered to debate “The role of video consultations in general practice: an opportunity or threat?” with the College’s head of communications presenting the case that this is somehow a threat to GPs and their Patients.
I thought this was interesting as:
1) I’ve never met a Doctor who hasn’t got a mobile phone that has a contact list full of other Doctors who they could call/SMS/Facetime at anytime if they needed help. It’s incredibly rare to meet with a Patient who is in this fortunate position and in fact Medics are being taught not to provide their personal contact details to Patients even though it’s one of the most caring things you can do.
2) The debate highlighted for me how despite the compelling evidence there is still a lot of disdain amongst experienced Doctors for any medium other than face to face in the office approaches to providing care. For many the medium through which they consult seems to be more important than the content and timing and I think they’re being left behind by Patients and are missing out on huge opportunities to improve the quality of their own careers and work/life balance while making a difference by improving access and outcomes for Patients who clearly want their Doctors to adopt the tools of our time and are more than ready for change.
3) the debaters had clearly confused ‘video consulting’ with ‘video prescribing’ (something I talk about in this mobile video consulting best practice talk I gave at the Doctors 2.0 conference a few years ago in Paris).