A conversation about virtual medical care in Nigeria
Enquirer: OK what is this Telemedicine?
MyMedicalBank: In simple terms, Telemedicine is the practice of providing “medicine” (healthcare) from “tele” (far).
It means to provide healthcare interventions like consultation, assessment, diagnosis and treatment by doctors and other healthcare professionals remotely through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) such as a video call.
Enquirer: Is it known by other names?
MyMedicalBank: Yes, telemedicine is often used interchangeably with teleconsultaion, telehealth, virtual medical care or video medical consultation. In its simplest form, it’s to speak online with a doctor.
Enquirer: How exactly does this Telemedicine work?
MyMedicalBank: For the most common type, first you book an appointment with a healthcare professional such as a doctor, practice nurse, physiotherapist or pharmacist through a Telemedicine platform (a website or a mobile app) and you pay online where required.
Then, on the day and time of the scheduled appointment, the healthcare professional will make a video call to you through the Telemedicine platform and the two of you will start talking about your healthcare condition.
During the consultation, you can share your medical report, test image or prescription with the healthcare professional.
After the consultation, the healthcare professional may prescribe some drugs or physiotherapy exercises, order a diagnostic test or refer you to a specialist doctor depending on the type of professional. He or she will also write a care report that summarises the care provided for you and share it with you through the same platform.
Enquirer: Sounds interesting, so when will Telemedicine be available in Nigeria?
MyMedicalBank: Telemedicine is already being used by many healthcare providers in Nigeria particularly by hospitals, Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) and health technology companies.
Enquirer: How can Telemedicine work in Nigeria where most people don’t have access to the internet?
MyMedicalBank: 50% of Nigerians or 100m people have access to the internet as of 2020 and the number is growing . The point is if you can use WhatsApp, Facebook or browse online, you can Telemedicine.
Enquirer: Why should I use Telemedicine when I can simply go to see a doctor in the hospital?
MyMedicalBank: Not every appointment with a doctor or a healthcare professional has to be face to face. There are numerous health conditions that can be managed or followed up on by a doctor remotely.
Besides, Telemedicine saves you time and money. It is cheaper than seeing a doctor in clinic. It gives you instant access to a doctor and you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home or workplace to see a doctor. It eliminates the need for you to go and queue in the clinic waiting to see a doctor.
If you are immuno-compressed (have reduced immunity) or worried about contracting Covid-19 and other infections in the hospital, telemedicine offers you a safe way to access healthcare.
In particular, patients with mobility or transportation issues can quickly connect to a doctor online.
Importantly too, with Telemedicine a doctor can see more patients than in clinic. Remember that due to brain drain in the health sector, Nigeria does not have enough doctors to attend to patients in clinic anyway.
Enquirer: This is really interesting but how much does Telemedicine cost? It must be expensive right?
MyMedicalBank: Not at all. It is actually cheaper than seeing a doctor in clinic both in terms of time and cost.
Healthcare providers set their own fees. For instance if you have health insurance with an HMO or your employer has retainership with a hospital, you may be able to get Telemedicine for free.
In general Telemedicine starts from around N2,500 per session of about 15 minutes. It may cost more if you need to have a session with a specialist doctor or a consultant.
Enquirer: I understand better now, so where do I start from?
MyMedicalBank: If you have health insurance, check to see if your plan includes access to free telemedicine. If you need health insurance, check out Health Market.
Also check to see if your hospital already offers Telemedicine.
Some other notable brands in the country include Tremendoc, Mobihealth, Health Connect 24×7 among others.
What are your thoughts on you and your family receiving healthcare through Telemedicine? Let’s hear from you in the comment section below. Have you enjoyed this article? Please share with others.
www.mymedicalbank.com is Nigeria’s no.1 digital platform that connects consumers with healthcare providers, health information and access to their health records from any location or care setting. For enquiries, go to www.mymedicalbank.com/contact