A doctor’s visit over video…I know that can sound strange, especially if it’s your first time. It’s natural to wonder how it works, and you aren’t alone in your curiosity. Most of our patients have the same questions around video exams, “How do you do that?”. To help explain how our doctors conduct an exam, diagnose an issue, and provide a treatment recommendation over video–let’s take a quick step back and discuss how doctors everywhere work with patients.
In many ways, all doctors are like detectives. They gather information from multiple sources to try and determine the best way to help their patients. These sources can include personal history, family history, and details about symptoms. Doctors will also use information from the exam and appropriate lab tests to complete the story. All of these pieces of information combined lead to a diagnosis and recommended course of action.
At Doctor On Demand, we pioneered practicing medicine using video and have established our own peer-reviewed, evidence-based video medicine guidelines. Let’s break down a few examples of how a visit over video is similar to the kind of face-to-face visit that may be more familiar to you. All doctor’s visits, video and in person, use the same three components to allow the doctor to perform the detective work, and it all starts with a conversation.
Doctor On Demand physicians start each visit after reviewing your completed intake form which includes review of your current symptoms. This gives the physician a sense of your current health picture, including current medications, allergies, and any other health conditions you may have. During your visit, the physician will ask for some additional information about your symptoms, such as: duration, past history, things that make them worse, and, and other details to help clarify what you are feeling. The doctor may also ask questions around your personal medical and family history. Sound familiar? It should, because this is exactly what a doctor would do if they were in the same room with you.
Our doctors come to you through high-definition video, so you can see them and they can see you. This is critical because the doctor will take note of your general appearance–Do you look pale? Are you sweating? Do your eyes look irritated? How does your breathing sound? Depending on the issue, the doctor may also ask you to put the camera right up to your mouth in order to see down your throat or next to a rash on your skin. You might be surprised to learn that your device’s camera resolution is high enough for a doctor to get a clear look at your skin or throat.
This last component of a video visit may be the most surprising–our doctors use an exam to gather information about your condition. Just as a doctor may push on your sinus and ask if it hurts during an in person, during a video visit you will be asked to be your doctor’s hands and do the same. Our doctors will guide you through where to apply pressure and how much pressure to apply. If you have an issue, like back pain, they may ask you lie flat or ask you to adjust your position similar to an in-office visit. If you are having stomach pain, the doctor may ask you to point to where you are feeling the pain. A doctor can also guide you through taking your pulse, or may ask you to take your temperature.
After performing a thorough exam as described above, doctors can obtain a full picture of you and your condition, which guides them when recommending a treatment plan for you. Plans can include over-the-counter remedies, behavioral changes, and prescription medications, which can be sent electronically to your pharmacy of choice.
These three pillars of a doctor’s visit–listening, observation, and touch–are the foundations on which doctors operate in order to successfully treat you. It is also through video that our doctors can diagnose and treat hundreds of issues, including things like colds, flus, UTI’s, digestive issues, rashes, eczema, acne, allergies, and migraines.
About the author
Ian Tong, M.D., serves as Chief Medical Officer at Doctor On Demand and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor (affiliated) at Stanford University Medical School and has staff privileges at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Before Doctor On Demand, Ian held multiple medical leadership roles including former Stanford Internal Medicine Chief Resident, and Founder and Medical Director of THRIVE (The Health Resource Initiative for Veterans Everywhere). Ian earned a medical degree from The University of Chicago-Pritzker. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and completed both his residency and Chief residency at Stanford Hospital and Clinics.