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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > August 2018 > HEALTHCARE at your fingertips

HEALTHCARE at your fingertips

There’s an app for everything, even a consultation with a doctor or dietitian. But can you trust a diagnosis over your smartphone? Niamh Leonard-Bedwell investigates

Health

Seeing a healthcare professional in person isn’t always easy. Whether your GP is booked up or your referral to a dietitian is months off, noticing your symptoms worsen while you wait can be frustrating and worrying. So it’s an appealing idea that we can access remote services that offer quick access to a consultation and diagnosis through your smartphone, laptop or tablet – known as telemedicine.

But is it a safe substitute for the real thing? We asked medical experts to take us through what’s out there, and which services we can trust.

The video link

The usefulness of having face-to-face access to a doctor 24 hours a day, wherever you are, is obvious. There are worries about getting time off work or not being geographically near your own GP, for example. ‘When you’re abroad and don’t speak the local language, it can be incredibly reassuring to be able to consult a GP online for a preliminary opinion about your symptoms and what you need to do next,’ says HFG nutrition editor Amanda Ursell. ‘If you can get a written suspected diagnosis, you can translate it online and take it to a local doctor or pharmacist as a good starting point. Just being able to speak with a doctor can calm you down and help point you in the right direction for the next stage.’

For minor concerns, such as rashes or bites, a simple video call can be enough to get to the root of the problem. But what do the doctors say? ‘I think Skype calling is a really useful service,’ says HFG expert Dr Dawn Harper. ‘I have always said that communication is 10% the words you use, 20% the tone in which you say them and 70% non-verbal body language. So, as a doctor, using Skype rather than phone or email gives me a much clearer idea of what is going on. For problems like rashes, it’s excellent.’

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About Healthy Food Guide

We put the record straight on carbs (yes, you can and should eat them if you want to lose weight) - with our expert guide on choosing the right types and making clever swaps. We've also got everything you need for a healthy holiday, from time-saving beauty hacks to help you look and feel great while you're away to a rundown of the healthcare apps to trust. And our easy, light, delicious recipes will help you make the most of those warm summer evenings with friends…