At this time of year GP surgeries are packed to the rafters with patients suffering from viral illnesses. Most people are well aware that an antibiotic won’t help a viral infection, and that the best treatment is simply time and a little TLC.
Yet many employers still insist upon a medical certificate. And so, instead of curling up in bed with a hot drink and a good box set, a journey to the local doctor is required, and unwell people find themselves sitting in crowded waiting rooms, queueing for a piece of paper and a signature! It can be quite frustrating!
However, times are changing. Nowadays, nearly everyone has a smartphone and these devices are becoming more and more useful in our daily lives. Sure, they allow us to do simple things like order a pizza, grab an Uber or chase a Pokémon! But smartphones are also starting to revolutionise how healthcare can be accessed- and I’m not talking about Dr Google!
In Australia there are already several online services offering medical certificates. This can be particularly helpful when a medical problem is simple and doesn’t require a physical examination. The common cold, gastroenteritis, sinusitis, period pain, migraine and viral illnesses are all self-limiting health problems- and an online doctor can safely issue a medical certificate for these ailments, following a brief consultation.
Some online doctors also offer prescriptions for simple medical issues, and repeat prescriptions for certain long term medical conditions. Most people are used to seeing their local GP to get their medications, as often some sort of examination is needed. But technology is advancing all the time- and will allow a lot of health measurements to be done without needing a doctor or nurse present.
Wearable health devices such as “Fitbits” have become very popular and are just the start of what is possible. In time, a lot of the health information a doctor needs will be attainable via such devices and smartphone apps, and healthcare professionals will be able to prescribe remotely.
So, the next time you need a medical certificate or a simple prescription, have a look at the growing number of online options- it might prove to be a very easy and economical way to avoid queues and waiting rooms this winter!