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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Telemedicine, Blindmen and the Elephant

We all know face-to-face consultation in the clinic is the best. However sometimes it is not possible, due to distance etc. Consultation over phone calls, emails, social medias and even proper telemedicine platform such as TELEME has a lot of limitation especially when it comes to dermatology. Not just because I cannot see the skin clearly but also because I cannot examine it.

To be honest, a lot of times, I feel like a blind man. Asking many questions rather than answering. How accurate and relevant my guess and advice is depends very much on whether the person on the other end decided to let me know the tail, the horn or whichever part of the elephant. And as a doctor, we have to be responsible for the advice we dispense.

Despite the best reasonable effort, many times I still can't be sure that I am getting the full picture of what the patient's true problem is. The information are often distorted. Worse still is that some people are asking questions on behalf of someone else. And expecting me to offer one miracle cream that will solve their problems through a blur picture, not even revealing which body part that picture belong to.

As my ex-colleague and friend put it, blind man touching part of an elephant + wearing a thick gloves.

Anyway, I must say Telemedicine is not without it's benefit, probably best general enquiry for non-medical person, or for second opinion among healthcare personnels, hopefully and likely we will be speaking the same "language".
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