brain . mind . body integrative health
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down presented an acute need for most healthcare providers to offer some form of virtual consultation. Commonly referred to as telemedicine, or telepsychiatry, this entity has successfully been implemented in various countries overseas already for some years.
In Psychiatry specifically improved clinical monitoring and availability of Specialists has been demonstrated, not to mention the improved productivity aspect for Patients as they spend less time travel to, and waiting in waiting rooms for Doctors. For these reasons we therefore hope that telepsychiatry will remain available and supported by funders beyond the current crises.
At NEUROCARE we offer telemedicine on a variety of platforms, most commonly by way of telephone consultation, WhatsApp voice calls, WhatsApp video calls, Face Time and Skype.
We have developed full clinical capabilities such as processing prescriptions (scanned and emailed to Patients or pharmacies), being able to order bloods tests (pathology), arrange scans (radiology), and perform symptom testing and monitoring through Mediweb (www.mediweb.co.za).
During the lock-down most Medical Aids has agreed to support funding for this initiative as per normal consultation arrangements (such as still honouring PMB registrations on the normal codes). Additionally some prescription processing obstacles have also been lifted (such as the need to present original scripts).
Irrespective of individual Medical Aid funding concessions, we have agreed to void any unpaid fees for telepsychiatry consultation (such as all co-payments), in the interest of our primary objective which is the health and safety of our Patients. Private options for virtual consultation have been added to our fee-schedule for current- and future use.
Our telepsychiatry experience have demonstrated an equal quality of healthcare service delivery, with in some instances an even improved level of care as monitoring and emergency access has most certainly become more efficient.
Please note that all other NEUROCARE services will continue when allowed, such as in-person consultation, hospital liaison- and admission services, legal- and community outreach initiatives.
Worldwide the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating, particularly on the mental health of all people. The risks associated with Psychiatric relapse during and because of the threat COVID-19 poses is immense.
In order to support our Patients adequately during this time we canceled all leave arrangements, and will remain available to each one of our existing Patients throughout this crises by way of virtual consultation. Please do not panic about running out of prescriptions or medicine, or not being able to discuss new or old problems!
We had no other choice but to convert all appointments booked before lock-down, and routine reviews as per ordinary schedule, to virtual consultation.
However, some may not feel comfortable to engage virtually, and is requested to communicate them opting-out of this initiative. Additionally any unsatisfactory virtual engagement may also be voided by written communication.
Please note that schedule 5 and higher medication can not simply be extended by pharmacists as per temporary regulation, and must still be renewed regularly. The escalated mental health risks currently call for regular review in order to prevent catastrophe. For this reason prescriptions may not simply be renewed without adequate review.
Virtual consultations can be requested by phoning the virtual office (066-4701447), physical office (021-8879015), or perhaps easiest by WhatsApp request to either 066-4701447 (Gail) or 082-5080744 (Dr Swanepoel).
As many Patients are unable to technically process consent forms from home, we agreed to accept any email, verbal or WhatsApp communication as such.
We trust the hopefully permanent availability of virtual telepsychiatry will strengthen our effort to good mental health for all!