Another way of putting our patients first
A virtual consultation is a remote video conversation between a patient and a healthcare professional. It is a convenient way to consult your healthcare professional and get quality medical advice and treatment without making a trip to the consulting rooms. This process is not changing the who, but rather the when, where and how of care delivery.
Virtual care doesn’t replace face-to-face health care consultations, but offer an alternative. It is a convenient way in which elderly patients, those with chronic diseases, patients with disabilities and those located far away can connect with a trusted healthcare professional. It is also a suitable alternative during the COVID-19 period of social distancing. Remote scripting can also be done.
Continuity of care is important. Because of our personalized care approach, Eye Care Centre is one of few health providers in the country able to offer follow-up in-person consultations with the same doctor who you consulted virtually or the other way around.
Paying For Your Virtual Consultation
- Electronic Bank Transfers
- TNM Mpamba
Tips for successful virtual consultations
Here is a quick checklist to make sure your appointment is successful and free of technical glitches.
Before the consultation
- Choose a room that is quiet and where you will not be interrupted. You should feel comfortable with some privacy.
- Ensure that there is adequate lighting and adjust it if needed. Your image should be clear and not dark or fuzzy. Turn on overhead lights and block light from windows to avoid direct light on the screen.
- Check that your WhatsApp is working prior to your appointment
- Charge your mobile phone and have a charger nearby to ensure that you have enough power for the duration of the consultation.
- Make sure that you have enough data.
- Check that your webcam or phone camera is working.
- Stabilize the device that you’re using to ensure a clear and stable healthcare professional / patient image throughout.
- Set-up the camera at eye-level. This will make it easier for your healthcare professional to see and engage with you.
- Check the quality of the sound. Most smartphones have a decent built-in microphone and speakers, but check yours to ensure that the sound is on and it is clear.
- Close unnecessary programs as these may strain the memory of your device and consequently reduce the quality of the virtual conversation.
- Set a reminder to notify you that your consultation is about to commence.
- Be ready 5 minutes before the time of the consultation in case you have to resolve technical glitches.
- Make a list of the problems you wish to discuss with your healthcare professional. This will ensure the conversation is to the point and you cover all your concerns.
- If you have been tracking your blood pressure, weight or blood sugars at home, be ready to share that information.
- Keep all medication at hand if you have to share the details with the healthcare professional.
- Take photos of any physical evidence that may be related to your consultation.
- Dress appropriately as the healthcare professional will see you throughout the consultation.
- Have the telephone number of our clinic with you in case there is a technical issue and you must call back.
During the consultation
- Stay engaged. Make sure you look into the camera and stay close to your device so that the healthcare professional can clearly see and hear you.
- Act the same as when you’re in a face-to-face consultation.
- There might be a slight voice delay during the conversation. Keep that in mind to avoid speaking simultaneously with the healthcare professional.
- Provide the healthcare professional with a thorough explanation of your medical issue, symptoms and medication that you’re currently using. Inform your healthcare professional about the doses, frequency, and side effects, if any.
- If you need a repeat script, inform the healthcare professional.
- Listen carefully and ask questions to clarify uncertainties.
- Make sure that you follow the instructions given to you by the healthcare professional.
- If there are changes to your medication, enquire whether you should schedule a follow-up consultation to discuss the affect of the medication.
- Ask about follow-up visits. Will it be another virtual consultation? Are there laboratory tests that you will need to visit the practice for? Can all activities be scheduled on the same day? Are there special precautions you should take for a face-to-face consultation?
Virtual visits in the event of an injury
Call the practice if you are concerned about an injury. This can assist the healthcare professional to decide which will be the best way and place to care for your needs. Depending on what you’re experiencing, the healthcare professional may give you advice about self-care at home; or request you to schedule a face-to-face consultation at the practice; or alternatively advise you to seek emergency care.
You can prepare for these calls:
- Inform the practice or helpline of all your symptoms, including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and any parameters you have measured.
- Let them know what you’ve done to treat yourself (if anything) and what the outcome was.
- If the healthcare professional advises you how to manage your symptoms at home, enquire about a follow-up consultation, as well as symptoms that would require immediate evaluation.
Virtual visits if you are concerned you may have COVID-19
If you are concerned that you have COVID-19 symptoms, or you’re not feeling well after you’ve been exposed to someone who has it, it is critical to call the practice (or emergency room for severe symptoms, like difficulty to breathe) before you arrive at the practice.
Your healthcare professional will advise you about the procedures to follow. Calling ahead ensures that other patients and healthcare providers are protected from being exposed to COVID-19.
- If you are having symptoms like fever, dry cough, and/or shortness of breath, inform your healthcare professional immediately. For mild symptoms, including sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, nausea, diarrhoea, and an upset stomach, it’s also advisable to inform your healthcare professional, especially if you live in an area where there are several COVID-19 cases, and to practice social distancing while you monitor your symptoms.
- Make sure that you know when to schedule a follow-up consultation if your healthcare professional advises you to manage your symptoms at home.
- Ask advice on how to protect other members of your household from also contracting the virus.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do I require / need for a virtual consultation?
A smart phone with a front and rear camera, microphone and internet connection and with WhatsApp installed.
2. How long does a consultation last?
Depending on the healthcare issue, a virtual consultation typically lasts between 10 and 15 minutes.
3. What are the operating hours for virtual consultations?
All Eye Care Centre facilities, pending availability, offer virtual consultations during the practices standard operating hours, which can be found on the Eye Care Centre website. Available time slots can be searched for by using the online booking feature on the Eye Care Centre website.
4. How do virtual consultations differ from in-practice doctor consultations?
Virtual consultations have limitations and do not replace in-practice consultations and examinations but offer an alternative for minor illnesses, or if the patient is unsure if an in-practice consultation is required. Patients may be requested to follow-up with a physical in-practice consultation, based on the clinical discretion of the attending doctor following a virtual consultation. Patient safety is a priority and may warrant the attending doctor to collect more clinical data through a physical examination in order to formulate a valid diagnoses and appropriate treatment plan for the patient’s current presenting problem.
5. Which problems are likely not appropriate for a virtual visit?
- Serious injury or wounds
- Blood in stool or urine
- Coughing up blood
- Breast lumps
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe abdominal pain
- Redness or pain in the eye following recent eye surgery or injury
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding or other menstrual abnormalities
- Chest pain
- Seizures (especially new onset)
6. Can I get a repeat script through a virtual consultation?
Repeat scripts for many medications can be provided via virtual consultation, provided that the medication was previously scripted by an Eye Care Centre doctor. Regular physical examinations to assess for complications of chronic medical conditions are important.
7. Do you accept medical schemes as payment for virtual consultations?
A claim will be submitted to the majority of medical schemes for the virtual consultation. Coverage cannot be guaranteed, and the patient would remain responsible for the account.
8. Are the rates for virtual consultations the same as for in-practice consultations?
Rates for virtual consultations are lower than rates for in-practice visits. The actual rate is determined by the benefits of your medical scheme and if a script is required. More information on rates can be obtained from our reception.
9. Can virtual consultations be done for injuries?
A virtual consultation may be possible for an initial evaluation of minor injuries to determine the extent of the injury and appropriate treatment. The doctor will then decide if it can be self-managed, requires a trip to the GP or should be treated in hospital. Treatment for serious injuries and wounds should be immediately sought in person and not delayed by first scheduling a virtual consultation.
10. Are there any benefits of virtual consultations over regular practice visits?
Virtual consultations are helpful for patients who have minor health concerns or need repeat scripts but have challenges in physically accessing a practice. In the context of COVID-19, it allows both doctors and patients to interact more safely with each other and for patients with possible COVID-19, allows them rapid access to testing referrals and reduce the risk to the public, staff and doctors when traveling to and attending a facility as virtual consultations are typically shorter and require no travel, it is an efficient way of accessing the care you need when you need it.
Terms and Conditions For Virtual Consultations
- Virtual consultations have limitations and do not replace in-practice doctor consultations.
- Patient safety is a priority and the doctor may request more clinical data through a physical examination.
- Virtual consultations are not suitable for all health conditions.
- As medical schemes currently do not pay for virtual consultations we only accept cash payments for virtual consultation fees.
- Payment for virtual consultations remains the responsibility of the patient.
- Patient notes that he/she should clarify uncertainties with the doctor during the consultation.
- Once a booking is confirmed, the patient understands and consents to continue with the virtual consultation.
Schedule A Virtual Consultation Appointment
Book your virtual appointment for a General Doctor or Psychotherapist by calling us or using the request form below.