All about teleconsultation

Little known in France a few weeks ago, teleconsultation has experienced a real boom since the coronavirus epidemic. If before confinement it represented less than 1% of all consultations in France, nearly 500,000 consultations per week were carried out remotely during confinement to the extent that reaching health establishments has become problematic. What should we know on the subject? We take stock of teleconsultation.

What is teleconsultation?

Teleconsultation is a remote medical consultation that allows a patient to see his doctor without having to come to his office. The attending physician and the patient group thus communicate by interposed screens, via a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. However, consulting a doctor remotely is not possible without an internet connection.

Who can benefit from it and by which health professionals?

All policyholders are entitled to benefit from a teleconsultation regardless of their pathology, by all doctors regardless of their status (employee, liberal), their specialty (pediatrician, gynecologist, dentist, general practitioner, etc.) and their place of practice (clinic, town office, hospital, nursing home, EHPAD, etc.). This remote monitoring can be done for chronic diseases or for occasional health concerns.

The medical practices authorized for a remote consultation are varied. Gynecology, ENT, dermatology, ophthalmology, pediatrics, dentistry and psychiatry are regulated by law and the decree of October 2010, but more recently, with the crisis linked to covid-19, of other professions have also been authorized by decree to monitor their patients at a distance, namely nurses and midwives.

However, it should be noted that teleconsultation is not recommended for a thorough physical examination. If required, the practitioner can offer a doctor's office appointment with him or a colleague.

What are the teleconsultation platforms?

There are secure and specialized platforms dedicated to teleconsultation.Exchanges via applications such as FaceTime®, Skype® or WatsApp® are not recommended as their content is confidential and sensitive.Consult your doctor by referring to the list available on the website of the Ministry of Health in France.Doctolib, TokTokDoc, MonMedecin, Consulib, MediConsult or even ConsultationEasy appear there although they are not approved by the government with regard to the management of health data.Either way, if these platforms are listed there, it is because they declare full data protection.

How to do a teleconsultation?

To do a teleconsultation, you must first contact your attending physician in order to arrange an appointment. Usually, a link is sent to you so that you can log in at the scheduled time of the consultation on the chosen platform. Before starting, the general practitioner must obtain your consent. A teleconsultation takes place like an ordinary medical consultation with the only difference that it is done remotely.

At the end of the session, the healthcare professional establishes a prescription if necessary. Whether it is a prescription for medication or a prescription for additional examinations, the prescription will be sent to you in paper format by post or in electronic format by email. In any case, this must be done under conditions which ensure the confidentiality and security of the data.

When the teleconsultation ends, the doctor of medicine writes a report with a view to filing it in the patient's medical file. The latter can be sent to the patient's attending physician if the one with whom the consultation took place is not. This guarantees better follow-up and facilitates coordinated care by health professionals.