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Virtual Gynecological health care


Advances in communication technology have revolutionized health care delivery. Physical consultations are no longer absolutely necessary for many conditions, being replaced by virtual consultations. Virtual care allows women take charge of their own health, anytime anywhere.

Web based self-diagnosis tools are commonly available, and generally free. Such tools have been developed on complex logical algorithms based on Gynecological symptoms and signs, often narrowing down to a probable diagnosis. Users can get virtual advice on the best course of action, ranging from reassurance to seeking immediate physical review by a Gynecologist. As is the case with all virtual interactions, common sense and discretion should prevail if any doubt arises.

Short messaging services, known as sms, have been available since the advent of mobile phones. Sms’s are easy to generate and cost much less compared to voice data. Women can agree with their Gynecologists to use dedicated phone lines for sms-based simple queries. Experienced Gynecologists can easily judge who requires physical review, and who can simply be reassured. Notification of normal results that don’t require further action can also be sent via sms, or email. A combination of sms and email communication provides timely delivery of medical information to patients, reduces unnecessary hospital visits, saves costs and increases service satisfaction. Crowded hospital waiting rooms begin to wane.

Voice and video consultations may be preferable to some women as they have some degree of physical interaction. Freely available web-based video applications are easy to use, and are a powerful tool for anywhere anytime virtual consultations. The Gynecologist is able to probe further on the symptoms and signs, and have a visual impression of the patient.

Remote devices are commonplace in other specialties like Cardiology, and continually transmit health data directly to receiving devices. Specialists can then interpret the data and give appropriate advice to patients. Such devices are not common place in Gynecology yet, but they are not far off in the horizon.

What about the social media? The power of social networks is in shared medical experiences. Women often relate pretty accurate details of what they have gone through, giving others an opportunity to relate to such information and make appropriate choices. It’s not unusual for a particular social network group to have links with a qualified Gynecologist. The Gynecologist gives professional advice, and answers technical questions.

Virtual healthcare complements traditional care, with accrued benefits in convenience, efficiency and cost-savings. Women should be proactive in demanding virtual Gynecological services from their care providers. Service providers should in turn invest in virtual tools that enhance their clients’ experiences.

But words of caution are warranted. No complex mathematical algorithms can completely replace old fashioned physical clinical assessment and judgement. Hence the probability of missing potentially serious conditions cannot be discounted. Virtual care must therefore be backed up with solid processes that assure optimal women’s health.

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