Online video appointments enable doctors to be consulted online. It means that patients do not need to travel, for example. And they also give doctors new ways of providing patients with better support, for example via virtual home visits.
At a glance
- Online video appointments can be used with almost any computer that has a camera and microphone, and with any tablet or smartphone.
- The internet connection needs to be fast enough for these online video appointments, so that the picture and sound quality is adequate.
- The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung – KBV) sets the exact rules for online video appointments.
- For example, a certified video service needs to be used for the online appointment.
- Data protection laws also have to be complied with.
- The doctor can only record the online video appointment with the consent of the patient.
What is an online appointment?
There are two basic types of online appointment: firstly, doctors and psychotherapists with their own practice can offer video appointments. The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung – KBV) sets the exact rules for them. For example, a certified video service needs to be used for the online appointment.
Secondly, there are online options that work like an online medical practice. The doctors that can be consulted here can usually only be contacted online. They cannot be visited in a practice. But if this is necessary, it is recommended by the online doctor. In both cases, an online video appointment works in the same way.
What are the requirements for an online video appointment?
Someone who wants to consult their doctor online does not need any special equipment. Most devices available these days – PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones – should be suitable if they have a camera, microphone, loudspeaker or headphone socket.
However, the internet connection needs to be fast enough to be able to transmit good quality images and sound. Depending on their device, patients can use a normal web browser or an app.
Doctors who offer online appointments first need to ensure that the video consultation is medically reasonable. They also need to make sure that the technical service provider being used complies with the rules laid down by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV) and the health insurance providers. Data protection laws also have to be complied with.
What needs to be considered before the online appointment?
Doctors who offer online appointments must inform their patients about data protection before their first online video appointment.
Doctors require a patient’s consent before recording an online appointment. Your doctor must also make you aware of all general prerequisites. These include the technology, basic things like good lighting and a quiet environment with no interruptions.
Your doctor may also ask you to consent in writing to using the video service.
How does an online appointment work?
If these requirements are met, a time and date are agreed for the online video appointment. The patient is then given a way to make the connection for the online appointment. This may be the video service provider’s internet address, for example. The doctor also provides a personalized access code for the appointment.
The patient can then dial up using the internet address and the code, even if they do not have their own online account. After they dialed in, the patient enters their name so that the doctor knows which patient they are.
When the doctor is ready and the patient’s identity has been verified, the online appointment can begin. The parties can see and speak to each other via the screen. In this way, the doctor can get a better picture than just via a phone call.
In the future, after an online appointment, doctors will also be able to issue electronic prescriptions for people covered by statutory health insurance, and send them digitally. The medication prescribed can then be collected from a pharmacy or ordered from an online pharmacy.
After the online appointment the patient should log out of the website.