What is a virtual doctor?
Visiting a doctor in a surgery with receptionists and a waiting room could all be a thing of the past. The developments in technology over the past couple of decades have brought video cameras, apps and connectivity to our phones; combine this with the world of medicine, and we’ve got virtual doctors.
Virtual doctors use technology to deliver care, support and treatment to patients no matter where they are, usually via phone or video call. Many virtual doctor services can also connect with physical or digitally enabled health monitors, like a Fitbit, heart rate monitor or home blood pressure reader, which can help the doctor to make a real-time assessment. This technology is helping virtual doctors all around the world to give accurate diagnoses and care – without needing to be in the same room, or even country, as the patient.
A real doctor
Despite what many imagine when hearing the term ‘virtual doctor’, it’s not a robot, an algorithm or a chatbot programmed to answer basic medical questions. A virtual doctor is simply the name of a real life, physical doctor who you can contact via phone or video call.
We spoke to Dr Tim Foggin, from Teladoc Health, a third-party provider1 that we use to provide the Virtual Doctor service, within our Virtual Care services, to find out more about what he does and why he chose to become a virtual doctor.
“In many ways what I do online is no different to when I’m in my clinic. I get to know and look after a wide spectrum of society and learn real people’s stories along the way. Of course I enjoy the detective work of the diagnostic process and developing the right plan of action to help patients move forward in a way that works for them. What’s really fun about being a virtual doctor is that I speak to people who could be anywhere in the world! I enjoy the surprise of hearing where my patients come from whether that’s in geographical terms or in terms of their medical journey – they might be recovering from an operation or it could be a parent needing to understand how concerned they should be about their child’s symptoms late at night. It’s rewarding to be there for people no matter where they’re coming from.”
AXA – Global Healthcare customer:
‘It’s the reassurance of speaking to a doctor in my language if necessary whilst travelling’
If you’ve opted for a video consultation, at the end of your call the doctor will write up your notes, and they’ll be saved on the app so that you can then share them with other healthcare professionals if you need to. None of this information is shared back to us, and anything you discuss with the virtual doctors is confidential, and doesn’t affect your policy in any way.