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How to get the most out of your consultation

How to get the most out of your consultation

Written by Dr. Haroon Thowfeek

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Before your consultation on oDoc, it is best to be well prepared. A well-organized patient not only makes efficient use of the doctor’s time but is also likely to get better medical care, as they are helping the doctor a great deal in making an accurate diagnosis. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Create a list of issues or queries you want to discuss
  • Makes sure you have all your medical records with you. You may even bring a note book to jot down all the important information the doctor tells you.
  • Remember to inform your doctor about all your symptoms. List them in a chronological order, starting from the time when you first noted that something was not right
  • Make a list of all the medications you are taking or let your doctor know what remedies you have tried earlier, and whether they have helped you or not. Alternatively, you can collect all your medicines and show them to your doctor.
  • If you have consulted a doctor earlier or have undergone relevant tests, please share this information with your present doctor. This information will help your doctor plan your treatment better.

Once you’ve spoken about the above with your doctor, you can ask him what he thinks your condition could be. If you do not agree with the doctor’s diagnosis, make sure to ask them more questions and understand why the doctor has come to this diagnosis. If you do not agree with it, you are unlikely to follow his advice and treatment, so it is always best to get your concerns sorted.

When the doctor presents you with a diagnosis, you can ask the following questions:

  • What is the diagnosis? Find out the complete medical name – and what it means in plain Sinhala/Tamil/English!
  • What is my prognosis (outlook for the future)?
  • What changes, if any, will I need to make in my daily life?
  • Is there a chance that someone else in my family might get the same condition?

If you cannot understand your doctor’s explanations, here are a few questions you can ask:

  • Could you explain in simple Sinhala/Tamil/English?
  • Can you write it down for me?
  • Can you draw what you are describing?
  • Where can I find more information about this subject?

What happens if you and your doctor differ about a treatment option? Let me point out that there’s a right way of approaching your doctor and a wrong way. It’s simply a matter of mutual respect; you wouldn’t want your doctor to assume the worst about you, so, don’t assume the worst about him! Often, if you can put across your feelings and apprehensions in the right way, you can get your doctor to help you. Explain your needs to the physician in a polite way, without any belligerence or hostility. Remember that you are both on the same side – yours!

In order to best support your doctor and them you, make sure to do the following:

  • Get ready for your appointment on time or if you are unable to make the appointment, cancel ahead of time  
  • Do your best to explain exactly what is bothering you. i.e. You can express your anxieties and apprehensions clearly.
  • Answer the doctor’s questions honestly.
  • Volunteer any important information that the doctor may not specifically ask about, including family history.
  • Let the doctor know if you cannot follow his directions and specify the reasons why.
  • Take medications as directed, strictly adhering to the dose schedule. Do not stop taking your medication once you feel better. Make sure to stick to the timelines your doctor has provided you with.
  • If you disagree with your doctor, express your  dissatisfaction in a courteous manner

While your doctor can provide guidance on your sicknesses or any medical conditions, you will be doing most of the legwork in getting your mind and body to its healthiest state.  So take an active interest in your medical care. After all, this is the only body you have! Patients who know how to make the most of their doctor get better medical care. Therefore, it’s very important that you learn how to do so!

How to get the most out of your consultation - Dr. Haroon Thowfeek

Dr. Haroon Thowfeek, MD

Family Physician on oDoc

SLMC Number 35006

Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital

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Why Video Channeling Is Right For You

Why Video Channeling Is Right for You

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Do you dread getting sick? Not only because of the body ache, the fever or the migraines but because you know that you will have to make a trip to the hospital, sit around for hours, feeling worse by the minute, and rush through a few minutes with your doctor? Or maybe you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, where you need to visit your endocrinologist every few months and show them your latest reports. You go to the hospital, wait till you’re called for your tests and then wait some more to show your results to your doctor? And in recent times, having to do all this with the worry that you might be exposing yourself to COVID-19?

It’s a good thing that oDoc has another option for you, one where you can start recovering without ever having to leave your home. oDoc allows you to channel your doctor on a video call so all you need is a mobile phone and an internet connection!

Online video consultations with doctors has been around for a long time but has definitely become more popular and practical during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know that it can be hard to wrap your mind around having your doctor’s appointment on your mobile phone where the doctor speaks to you and provides a diagnosis. But there are many advantages of channelling a doctor virtually.

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No transportation time or costs

When you video channel your doctor on your phone, you can save money on petrol and public transportation. You also don’t waste time travelling to a clinic or sitting for hours in a waiting room or risk running into a traffic jam.

For those of you who live outside the big cities, you don’t have to worry about setting aside your whole day or half your day to travel into the city for your appointment with the doctor.

Comfort and convenience when channelling online

You can consult the doctor on oDoc from your own bed if you feel like it.

A virtual consultation is much easier to fit into your busy schedule. You don’t need to take time off work, you can simply schedule a consultation during your break, or before or after work. If you are taking care of children or an elderly parent, usually you would need to find alternative care while you go to a clinic for your doctor’s appointment. But with oDoc, this worry is eliminated as you can still uphold your family responsibilities.

Reduced exposure to other diseases commonly spread in hospitals

With virtual consultations, you are less exposed to other people’s germs, which is an even greater benefit if you’re chronically ill, pregnant, elderly or immunocompromised. This reduces the spread of COVID-19, flu and other infectious diseases. Doctors are protected as well.

Immediate paediatric care for babies and children.

If your baby or little child has suddenly got sick in the middle of the night, you can immediately channel a doctor on oDoc who can ease your worries, provide a diagnosis and a prescription if needed.

Online psychiatric support

Taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health, which is why oDoc gives you the opportunity to speak to a counsellor or psychiatrist confidentially and privately.

Channelling with a doctor online is not meant to take the place of in-person appointments but it can be an important addition to patient care. Consult with a doctor on oDoc today!

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5 Myths About Therapy

5 myths about therapy

“You don’t need therapy, it’s all in your head...”

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Seeking out professional help to discuss emotional issues, be it relationship conflicts, job stresses or strong feelings of depression, is still stigmatized heavily in Sri Lanka. The taboo around therapy is immense and the hushed preconceived notions towards people who seek out therapy heavily deters people from prioritizing their mental health. 

With the heavy stigma surrounding therapy, many misconceptions and myths about therapy have arisen and we’re here to give you the facts!

1. Therapy is only for “crazy” people or those who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder

Untrue. The typical person who goes to therapy struggles with many of the same issues that we all struggle with on a daily basis; self-doubt, self-confidence, work stress, relationship conflicts, life transitions, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Therapy is more than just treatment; it is a journey of personal growth and overcoming challenges.

Your therapist helps you develop healthy coping mechanisms when dealing with stressful situations so you can live a happier, more productive life.

2. Going to therapy is considered a sign of weakness.

Untrue. In a culture like ours, seeking help is often equated with weakness as we’ve been forced to believe that we can and should fix all our problems ourselves. In reality, acknowledging that we are not okay and asking for help shows great strength and courage. We don’t consider having a fever, breaking a bone, or getting acne as weaknesses and speaking to specialist doctors about such issues as failures. The same should be true for our mental health, be it stress, anxiety, addiction or any other obstacle that’s hurting us.

3. The doctor prescribes “crazy pills”

Untrue. Many forms of therapy start off with talk therapy and this may serve as your primary method of treatment. Depending on your specific issues, your doctor may prescribe medication which can play a part in helping you become healthier. If a doctor diagnoses a mild case of depression, for example, and believes that this may be short lived, they tend to stay away from prescribing antidepressants and focus on other forms of treatment such as counselling and lifestyle changes.

Both talk therapy and medication are effective ways of treating a range of mental health conditions. Your doctor will consider factors, including your symptoms, severity of symptoms, past experiences, and both you and your doctor can decide on the type of treatment that best suits you and helps your recovery process.

4. “I don’t need to speak to a therapist, I have my family and friends”

While having strong relationships with family and friends is an influential part of mental health, they don’t necessarily solve specific emotional problems. There is a difference in confiding to a loved one versus speaking to someone who is professionally trained in listening, problem-solving and providing objective, non-biased guidance to improve your well-being.

5. If you wait a little while, you will feel better soon

When experiencing emotional pain, we are conditioned to wait for it to go away on its own or suppress our feelings and try to continue with life as usual. Just like a cavity needs dental treatment sooner rather than later and chest pain needs to be discussed with a cardiologist immediately, our emotional trauma needs to be addressed with and given treatment, be it through regular counselling and if necessary, medication.

Seeking professional help from mental health professionals is a brave first step to recovery. You can get in touch with psychiatrists, counsellors or psychologists on the oDoc app who provide a safe space for you to talk about your feelings. You can even purchase an oMind subscription package which gives you unlimited access to mental health professionals so you have a doctor by your side, always.

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