Digital medicine: video consultation hours

Visiting the doctor via computer: video consultation hours can save you having to go to the practice. What use are they, where do they reach their limits, who bears the costs and how do you find telemedicines? We answer these questions

Sick at home: For some questions, you can now call the doctor into the living room via video chat

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How does a video consultation work?

The patient does not come to the practice as usual, but telephones the doctor via video connection. The doctor and patient can be many kilometers away, but they see each other and talk to each other.

If you want to use a digital consultation, you need a smartphone, tablet or an internet-enabled computer with a camera and microphone.

How well can a disease be treated via video switching?

"In some cases very well," says general practitioner Erik Bodendiek from Wurzen in Saxony. He is chairman of the Telematics Committee of the German Medical Association and explains: "Doctors can, for example, examine the healing process of wounds, discuss blood sugar levels with diabetics or treat colds."

It is an advantage if the doctor already knows the patient. In most federal states, however, doctors are now allowed to treat patients via video consultation without prior personal contact, according to Bodendieck.

When does video medicine reach its limits?

If the complaints cannot be clearly assessed from a distance, the patient must still come to the practice. Doctors have completely different examination options on site. For example, you can feel, smell, draw blood, do an ultrasound.

Remote treatment: When the doctor and patient are in different places, telemedicine can connect them

© W & B / Veronika Graf

In practice

The doctor can call his patients at an agreed appointment via video and, for example, check the progress of the therapy. So the patient does not have to come to the practice.

"Treatment by video is only possible if it is medically justifiable," emphasizes Bodendieck. And as long as the electronic prescription is not introduced, the patient has to come to the practice anyway to have his prescription issued. In some regions of Germany, the poor internet connection is also an obstacle.

Is no one really looking and listening?

To prevent this from happening, the doctor has to have the consultation hour run through a certified video provider. This ensures that the circuit is securely encrypted. That means: only the patient and the doctor can see and hear each other.

Who bears the cost of video consultation hours?

As part of the statutory health insurance, the health insurance company. Private individuals should clarify with their insurance company whether they will pay.

How do you find telemedicines?

There are no registers for this yet. In general, only a few medical professionals conduct video consultations. Ask your doctor if they offer the service.