Die Zeitschrift «Schönheit und Gesundheit»
Airdoc CEO Markus Will gab ein Interview in der russischen Zeitschrift "Schönheit und Gesundheit"
Wie können Schweizer Ärzte russischen Kollegen und ihren Patienten helfen? Wie macht man Schweizer Medizin für Menschen aus den GUS-Staaten zugänglich? Zentrales und respektables Magazin, die russische Zeitschrift „Schönheit und Gesundheit“ hat diese Frage an unseren CEO, Markus Will, gerichtet. Unser CEO äusserte sich zum Thema Telemedizin und medizinische Zweitmeinung via Internet.
Das Thema des Artikels: Falsche, erste Diagnosen: Laut inoffiziellen Daten sind viele der ersten medizinischen Diagnosen nicht richtig. Es ist grundsätzlich ratsam, bei relevanten medizinischen Belangen, eine zweite Beurteilung eines anderen Spezialisten einzuholen. Das kann heute auch grenzüberschreitend und ohne Reiseaufwand geschehen. Wir sprechen natürlich von einer zweiten Meinung eines Arztes aus der Schweiz. Ganz einfach via Internet. Es benötigt dazu lediglich vorab die kompletten Unterlagen zur Untersuchung und der Diagnose. Die meisten Fälle können so beurteilt werden und im nachfolgenden persönlichen Arztgespräch – via Videotelefonie – kann noch auf weitere Fragen des Patienten eingegangen werden.
Text by Elena Smirnova
ACCORDING TO THE UNOFFICIAL STATISTICS, ONE THIRD OF THE DIAGNOSES made in Russia are wrong. The situation is likely to be SAVED BY USING A SECOND MEDICAL OPINION, but we might be too shy to get it or just have no clue how to do it. TO WHAT EXTENT IS IT IMPORTANT?
ALEXANDER SAVERSKY, President of the All-Russian Non-governmental Organization “League of Patient Protection”
MARKUS WILL, CEO, AirDoc
A middle-aged woman enters the consulting room. She looks nervous, like every person prescribed a complicated operation. She feels tired, like every person who has covered a few thousand kilometres to reach the hospital. Her ambulatory medical record says “myoma” with a hysterectomy indication. The woman came to be operated on in Switzerland after getting the verdict in Russia. But the consultation with the specialist turns the grievous situation into a quite optimistic one. The woman leaves the room with a smile on her face, soon to be discharged from the private medical clinic in Zurich. The doctor explained that her case does not require any surgical intervention, due to certain parameters (no complaints, age), the myoma will diminish in size by itself, but an annual check-up is a must. This situation is typical for Swiss medical specialists. An independent medical expert examination service is called a second medical opinion and is often provided as a form of telemedicine. Thus, it was unnecessary to go to Europe, as the second expert opinion could have been received right at home.
TELEMEDICINE AND ITS BENEFITS
Telemedicine, or medicine from a distance is getting more and more attractive to medical specialists and patients all over the world, as well as more and more perfected and popular. “Today, the interpretation of the term “telemedicine” is not limited to using telephone or electronic communication: an important aspect consists in the transmission of digital images and documents from the patient to the doctor regardless of time and distance”, Markus Will says. The method was initially used only in the field of radiology, but with time, it has quickly spread to other medical disciplines such as dermatology, pathology, surgery and orthopedics. Nowadays, telemedicine can be employed in almost every medical field. High-speed Internet and a high-quality video camera installed on the patient`s computer – that`s all you need to consult a doctor concerning your treatment, prophylaxis and diagnostics. Modern telemedicine provides a rather wide range of opportunities – it is even possible to diagnose a disease remotely, to monitor and assess its progress while adjusting further treatment. An immediate teleconsultation with an experienced specialist may play a decisive role in making a timely and exact diagnosis. Such method of communication with a doctor is especially useful for patients living in the towns situated far from medical centres and for disabled people.”
Russia is keeping up with modern trends in the development of telemedicine. Starting this year, the Federal Law on Telemedicine came into force throughout the country, but the scope of the methods used is limited so far. It is trite but not every town, not to mention settlements, are equipped with high-speed data transmission channels. Therefore, any potential online consultation must still be provided offline. However, there is potential in the method. “Telemedicine has a technological element and depending on the way it will be used it can be beneficial or harmful. There is no doubt that it is very convenient and fast and not only in terms of Skype consulting. It is a huge amount of information that can be transmitted and received using all channels of telecommunication technology”, Alexander Saversky says. Possibly, when it becomes perfected within the decision-making chain, especially in standard situations, doctors won`t be needed at all. For instance, ECG data is transmitted to the central database to be processed and in case of any critical situation, an emergency signal is sent to an ambulance station. It means huge progress in saving the lives of patients suffering from chronic diseases and threatening acute conditions.
WHAT ABOUT FOREIGN COUNTRIES?
However, taking into account the current lack of doctors in our country, there is no question of the spurting in the promotion of telemedicine. It`s still interesting that, for instance, in Switzerland with its top-quality medical services, it also took time for telemedicine to catch on. “Switzerland is a highly specialized country, including the medical field. There are a lot of single-discipline specialists in every field. Furthermore, medical management and, in fact, medicine are also separated: you are unlikely to find a clinic director with medical education in our country. Swiss clinics are managed by professional managers and doctors are in charge only of treating patients and managing medical directions,” Markus Will says. The idea of telemedicine also stemmed from medical managers and not from medical specialists themselves, therefore, at first, it was not very easy to advance in this direction for the population and medical specialists. Swiss specialists always strive for providing top-quality services, therefore doctors from each particular medical field were hesitant to use telemedicine. But, after examining the wide range of benefits it would provide to their patients, things got rolling – and the number of opponents is constantly decreasing. Telemedicine is confidently gathering steam. It is also important to note that the percentage of medical errors in telemedicine does not exceed the percentage made by regular outpatient visits.”
HOW FREQUENT ARE MEDICAL ERRORS?
According to the most recent research conducted by an American magazine Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, doctors make a incorrect diagnosis in more than 20% of cases. Based on the research data, only 12% of diagnoses made by treating doctors on site are fully confirmed by those made for the patients during subsequent clinical hospitalization. “Most medical errors are made by dentists, obstetricians and gynecologists followed by various surgical types,” Alexander Saversky says. Fewer errors are made by anesthesiologists, intensivists and physicians as they hardly perform any manipulations connected with life and death.” Therefore, if you possess more information about the diagnosis (which can be received after consulting other specialists), you will be able to make the right decision concerning treatment. The situation in our country is also complicated by the fact that medical errors are subject only to criminal responsibility. That means that you need to die for the doctor to be suspended from his/her activity for two years. Otherwise, it is only the patient who pays for a doctor’s error. In addition, the cause of the medical error – doctor`s specialization, imperfect technique, lack of proper practice and experience – is not important and the result is the same: you won`t get timely medical assistance to save your life. I must confess that it has happened to me recently that a surgeon in a policlinic made a verdict without even diagnosing me, like in that famous movie “To operate, and the hell with it”, and a doctor from another hospital prescribed only medication therapy. I trusted the latter and recovered. But it doesn’t happen every time. You can consult one doctor after another and get opposite opinions everywhere. Is there any way out?
FOREIGN MEDICINE WILL HELP
If you doubt the correctness of the diagnosis or your condition is not improving despite the treatment prescribed it would be reasonable to get a second expert opinion. “In 66% of cases, even if the treating doctors on site were right in many aspects, a repeated examination in the clinic provided a more exact diagnoses,” Markus Will said. “It is impossible to get a free second opinion in our country, even the right to consensus has been excluded from the new law”, Alexander Saversky says. The patient is entitled to get a consultation, a second one as well, but the second opinion is not provided by law.” Now, it is time to get back to the benefits of telemedicine that allows a patient to quickly get in touch with any clinic around the world just by means of network videotelephony (Skype, Viber, WhatsApp). It is easy, convenient and budget-friendly and guarantees proper treatment. But it is currently offered only in foreign clinics. In Russia, public networks like Skype are not used by doctors because of possible medical information leakage.