Covid has changed a lot of things. Most things. One of which is how GPs work. When Covid happened, everything changed completely overnight. Just like a rake of other industries. Our waiting rooms, usually packed with coughing patients, were empty, forever I expect. Just like that, there was no one coming to see us. All our work was on the phone and then online.
Video GP consultations are not new. Telemedicine, as some people insist on calling it, has been around for many years and phone consultations are around as long as there have been phones. But covid turbocharged their use to the point that every GP in Ireland was doing the majority of their work this way.
And the truth is that video and phone consults are here to stay. The genie is out of the bottle. There’s an adage that 90% of the diagnostic work of a GP is done by listening to the patient. It certainly became clear to me very quickly just how much of our work can be done in this way.
There are so many advantages to online GP, especially from the patient’s point of view (which is all that matters). No travelling to the surgery, no time off work, no hanging around in the waiting room and all at a time that suits you. And if the subject matter is a bit personal or sensitive, then online consults can make it easier to reach out – this can only be a good thing. Added to this, in current times, there’s the absolute removal of potential infection – no human interaction, no contaminated surfaces, just stay at home!
But online consults have had their enemies amongst GPs themselves from the get-go. They argue that nothing can replace the face-to-face interaction and the continuity of care that comes from developing a relationship with your GP.
From my perspective, it is different and there are some downsides. You might miss the accidental discovery of something when the patient is in the room. Even seeing the patient walk into the room offers a lot of information. And I am not for a second denying that there are times when a physical exam is absolutely essential. And blood tests, blood pressure, ear exam, knee exam. Can’t get away from these.
A lot of what I’m trying to do with MensHealth.ie does require face-to-face interaction, no doubt. But the main reason I started this was because guys don’t go to the doctor enough. So by opening the door to online consults we can get things started. Taking that first step to engage with your GP is vital. After that, good things start happening. And anything I can do to make that easier, I will do.
As for the concerns over continuity of care – I completely agree. There are reams of studies demonstrating that by building a relationship with your GP, you will have better health outcomes in the long run.
That’s why MensHealth.ie is different. It’s not staffed by a rotating series of doctors. It’s my practice, online. I will be your GP. Let’s work together to make you healthier and keep you that way.
Now it’s your turn. Check out MensHealth.ie and book in to see me. I want to help.