October 29, 2010

Bangalore doctors perturbed over rising online consultation

The recent trend in online medical consultation is sending alarm bells ringing with medical professionals saying that it could be more harmful than cure.

With websites such as Dr Google and others replacing doctors, the GenX, who no longer want to consult a doctor for a mild cold, fever or even other illnesses are opting to type in the symptoms on the website and take a printout of the prescription. The convenience of the process is attracting many youth to this concept and is spreading among the urban crowd.

“When are you late to work and down with cold, you really don’t have the time to wait at the doctor’s clinic. Also, blindly buying some medicine given by a medical store keeperis not a good option. By just keying in the symptoms on the Internet, you get the name of the medicines to be taken. So, why wouldn’t someone go for this?” asks Radhika Menon, a HR professional.

The concept started initially with patients double-checking the medicines online, prescribed to them by their doctors. It soon became a source for prescription, boosting the numbers over counter medicine.

The trend, which is widespread in Western countries, is catching up in the sub-continent as well. But medical professionals are worried about the increased numbers of self-diagnosis using Internet.

Dr Sudarshan Balal, chief of medicine, Manipal Hospital says that computer-based treatment could be dangerous for the person’s health. “A computer cannot replace a doctor. For instance, if a patient comes to the doctor with fever, it could be a symptom of a bigger problem. Unless a proper diagnosis is conducted, this cannot be found out if there is a serious problem,” said Dr Balal.

Although the doctors’ community is against this concept, there are many, who are part of the Internet consultation. Search words like online medical consultation or online prescription would guide one to many websites. Not just that, even hiring of doctors for the post of online consultants are taking place on Internet job portals.

However, officials at the Indian Medical Association (IMA) say that they do not subscribe to this concept. But, there are no rules which prohibit the member doctors from online consultation, they add. “The symptoms, diagnosis and treatment vary for different persons,” said Dr Vishi Shanmuganathan, president, IMA, Bangalore chapter.

According to him, online communication between two professionals is something which would be allowed, as the professional will be able to communicate properly unlike patients.

Link: Original Article

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