Unbelievable! Telemedicine saved a life

October 13, 20217 min reading

Interview with general practitioner, Sergey Saadi, who talks in depth about why people should turn to telemedicine for help if they have a health issue.

Did you know that 89% of U.S. residents tried to solve their health issues with the help of Google before seeking medical attention in 2019? Estonians are no strangers to this kind of behaviour either. Unfortunately, answers received are all but adequate. Today we can say that Dr. Google is yesterday’s news and real help is just a click away with telemedicine. We turned to an experienced general practitioner, Dr. Sergey Saadi, and we asked him about the wonder that is telemedicine.

Telemedicine allows you to get answers to your health related questions via video consultations from a general practitioner, psychologist, physiotherapist or any other specialised health care provider. They are all licensed or certified health care providers who help people via Chat, phone or video call at all hours of the day. This service allows the client to talk to a specialist at almost any time while being at home, the office or a hiking trail.

“According to different estimations, 60% to 70% of primary level out-patient visits could actually be conducted virtually.”

According to Minudoc specialist Dr. Sergey Saadi, telemedicine services are part of future medicine. People prefer an easier life, they want answers here and now and they expect to talk to a competent and friendly health care provider.

How fast is it possible to see a doctor or how long are waiting lists?

To contact a doctor you first have to sign in to Minudoc and then choose the desired service. On-call doctors are available every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they will answer the patient within the first four minutes. “It will take up to 8 minutes to book a consultation and see a doctor,” says Sergey. Another option is to choose the desired service and make an appointment through the website. A consultation with a GP is usually possible on the same day but a specialist appointment can be made for the same week.

How does the client know that they are getting advice from a professional?

Help is provided through the platform by licensed or certified health care providers or health workers who have passed thorough checks. A thorough interview is conducted with the candidates, a background check is performed and previous feedback is taken into account. “Most doctors are acquainted with each other,” says Sergey; trustworthiness is also based on recommendations in addition to licences. “All of our doctors are specialists in their own area of expertise on a daily basis,” explains Sergey, adding that you won’t find any retired physicians among them. 

Can an examination be performed via video and if so, how? There are two possible ways to perform an examination – image or video. The patient can take a picture or make a video of their problem and send it to the doctor via Chat on the website before their consultation.

What kind of specialist is requested the most or what are the most common health issues that one seeks help with?

According to Sergey, so far about two thirds are GP and psychological consultations. One third of consultations is with a specialist. Many opt to talk to a pharmacist which is free of charge for the client.

It is possible to talk to a doctor using the Chat or making a phone or video call. Which of the above is most favoured?

To talk to a doctor people mainly use the video consultation option which is probably the closest thing to having actual contact. If a video call is not possible, one makes a classical phone call; the Chat is the least favoured option for a consultation.

Besides being virtual, how is the service different from a traditional GP appointment?

The biggest difference is in the availability and renewal of prescriptions which takes significantly less time through telemedicine. “A prescription will be ready in 15 minutes after sending a request,” says Dr. Saadi. By booking a consultation the doctor is given the right to access the patient’s health records and document the visit. So there will be a trace in the patient’s digital health record. Telemedicine doctors generally use the same programs as GPs. In addition to prescriptions they can also order blood work and tests, issue referrals and get test results. Doctors providing telemedicine services are loyal to their patients. All problems will be solved and patients’ wishes respected. If the doctor does not know the solution right away, another specialist will be involved. “This kind of support is not available at general practices,” says the doctor.

What happens if a call is cut off for some reason? Is the consultation wasted?
Attitude towards patients is very important according to Dr. Saadi. We make our best efforts to provide fast help and a pleasant consultation. If a phone call is cut off for some reason, the doctor will contact the patient via Chat to find out whether they want to continue with the consultation. “If the call cannot be restored and we see that the consultation did not provide full help, we will refund the money.”

Are less appointments available on public holidays and at weekends?

As a rule, weekends and public holidays are no different from the usual schedule when on-call doctors are available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. There might be a slightly longer wait in more specialised areas (gynaecologist, neurologist, cardiologist, physiotherapist and others).

How much does this service usually simplify the work of doctors? What do you think, is this the future?

“It is definitely part of future medicine, its organisation and arrangement,” says Dr. Saadi with a happy note. Fast solutions and availability of competent and pleasant specialists are extremely important. Sergey emphasises that the telemedicine service is especially important for those with limited options for seeing a doctor, such as people living in rural areas.

Dr. Saadi says that he himself also uses the telemedicine service and he is very happy with it. “I like it and I recommend it to all my friends. You pay 5 euros and in 15 minutes you have your prescription.” He points out the physiotherapist consultation where instructions and recommendations are provided and videos are shared, helping people get fit again. A lot of places have waiting lists for a psychological consultation but with telemedicine a therapist will be available in just a few hours. According to Dr. Saadi, all the specialists speak at least two languages, which makes help available to patients speaking other languages as well. 

Do you recall any especially heart-warming stories where telemedicine was of great help for the patient?

Dr. Sergey says that there was a woman in her forties who complained about chest pain, general weakness and shortness of breath. She had called an ambulance twice but they found nothing wrong with her and didn’t take her to hospital. Dr. Saadi’s consultation with the woman lasted for nearly an hour, after which it was clear that she was suffering from a serious illness. The doctor referred her to the ER and quite soon it was discovered that she had pulmonary embolism. “It is possible that we saved her life,” says Sergey; this case definitely taught a lot to the entire team.

Telemedicine is part of IIZI’s Health package.