What I am going to describe may NOT be acceptable practice in other countries. When I joined the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Fortis Clinique Darne which is the best private healthcare provider on the Island, I saw a gap in the exchange of information among doctors attached to the ICU. The intensivist who is in charge of the ICU needs to be constantly informed about clinical condition of the patients. I had to keep on calling him several times to pass important information regarding patients all the time. I found this unproductive and all those in clinical practice know that a picture cannot be replaced by words. The intensivist was using a smartphone which he used just for calls. I was already an avid smartphone user. I installed Whatsapp on his phone and starting sharing critical information regarding patient care e.g scan reports, radiology images, blood tests, ECG and even video of echography. The productivity and enhanced experience soon made a buzz in the hospital and I found myself installing Whatsapp on the phones of several medical consultants and teaching them how to use it. Then came the need to share information about one patient to several practitioners seeing that patient. So I created group chat on Whatsapp and I share the data to all of them and they discuss the best line of treatment for that patient.
This simple model has inspired the development of instant messaging in the upcoming Doctor Assistant multi-platform version. So, remote consulting is happening and is growing in silence. Many patients share their medical reports to practitioners with these communication tools. It's a topic to look further and maybe publish pioneer papers regarding the use of these tools for remote consulting.
What are your views on using novel communication tools between medical professionals and patient?
Have you ever tried such using Skype, WhatsApp and Viber to contact a patient?
Do you believe a more formal tool could be developed only for the healthcare sector?