Telephonic Consultation: A Family Physician’s Perspective

(From a discussion held at a recent IMA meeting in Ahmedabad)

Telephonic consultation is a day-to-day situation that every doctor faces in one way or another. However, most doctors remain confused on how to handle this.

Problems related to telephonic consultation

  • Asian Doctor With PhoneCalls can come anytime, anywhere; the doctor may not be prepared or free to take the call.
  • Such consultations are time-consuming, as some patients take lots of time to explain the problem.
  • The OPD routine gets disturbed, as communication with the next patient in the clinic OPD at that time suffers.
  • It is often difficult to recollect patient history on the spot, or doctors simply may not have access to it at the time of the call.
  • It is not financially rewarding, as there is no formal concept for it, and most patients do not want to pay for this kind of consultation.
  • Serious mistakes can be made in patients hearing the names of prescribed medications, and this can put patients at risk.

Practical aspects and problem areas

  • It is a necessary evil.
  • Patients prefer to call and talk to a doctor rather than visiting them for minor ailments or giving them updated reports, etc.
  • It saves patients time and money.
  • Reaching the doctor over the telephone is quite helpful when the patient is travelling or on holidays when the clinic is closed.
  • Mobile phones have created havoc, as they are often being misused by patients as an “inquiry service.”


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