It plays a useful role in facilitating access to specialist care and follow up consultations for patients with chronic diseases, living in remote areas or unable to travel. During this pandemic, it has helped patients seek medical care, when hospital visits carried a high risk of infection or disease transmission.
In recent times, several online portals have sprung up, offering basic or specialist consultations, second opinions, and even day care surgery. However, there are limitations to an online consultation. Medicine is a very hands-on discipline. Every little observation, from how the patient walks into the room to a detailed physical examination is necessary to provide optimal care to patients. It is also needed to form the doctor-patient connection and bond.
If you live in a place that has access to medical care, seek the opinion of your family doctor or general physician first. If they refer you to seek specialist opinion, meet them in person. Specialist referrals or second opinions are generally sought for difficult or tricky medical conditions and you are better off meeting them in person. If this is not possible, then seek an online consultation. Follow the guidelines issued by the concerned health authorities in your area during the pandemic.