Medical tele-consultations tried and tested

What are people saying about is an online, Maltese, digital platform implementing the efficiency and effectiveness that comes with telehealth visits.

Together with the integration of digital communication applications, appointments can be made with specialised practitioners from different medical backgrounds. From the comfort of one’s home, through the Tabib platform, one can connect to a practitioner of choice for a consultation through videoconferencing means.

Launched in response to the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic measures, with the purpose of bridging the gap between practitioners and patients whilst safeguarding social distancing rules, believes that covid-19 has acted as a catalyst for the awareness and the necessity of telehealth services on the island.

“The benefits are amazing”, states Michael Psaila Debono, Tabib’s business unit leader, “Since non-billable travel times are drastically reduced, a practitioner has the luxury to consult many more people who seek medical advice – simultaneously a patient does not need to take half a day off from work to consult a doctor for 10 minutes when a physical presence is not needed for that particular consultation.”

With the consent of a few Tabib’s users, feedback from these patients who represent different demographics of society has been presented. For data protection reasons, patient details have been anonymised.

First patient – a young Maltese mother

1) Do you think that telehealth services here on the island were much needed?

To be totally honest with you, and maybe I speak for the majority of mothers here, up until Covid-19 became a part of our lives, awareness around telehealth services was not a big thing.

After having tried Tabib myself, I can confidently say that it was a very much needed service offering which would have done all Malta a world of good had it been an official, widely recognised platform.

2) How has Tabib benefited your day-to-day life?

Being a mother of three, with my kids being between the ages of 5 – 14, and with their grandfather also needing medical care with frequent follow ups, I, like many other mothers in Maltese households, play the role of a medical warden. I find myself responsible for the wellbeing of my immediate family. This is already stressful in itself, especially when I have to juggle work. A big stress in my life is when one of my family members falls ill or requires a medical follow up, I would basically need to change my whole day around – or even take leave from work to attend to their medical needs.

Added anxiety was also put on my shoulders during the peak of Covid times when I was getting paranoid about getting out of the house. I came across Tabib, tried it out and the platform completely revolutionized my ‘medical warden’ job. I was completely blown away at how easy this stressful process actually became.

No longer did I need to take half a day off from work, or juggle around my agendas just to get stuck in traffic, sit in a germy waiting room for an hour in order to consult a doctor for 10 minutes. I simply sat on my sofa with one of my kids, went on the platform and booked a
consultation with one of the practitioners on the site. Simple and easy.

3) Would you consider using Tabib post covid-19 measures? Why?

Definitely! As I mentioned before, it has put convenience back into my day-to-day life. Not only that but I think the country as a whole needs to come to terms with our overpopulation issue. One of the biggest consequences of our great healthcare system is that sometimes people can go to the emergency room for the slightest of reasons – which is not fair on our health care professionals as it acts as a burden on their shoulders when the real emergencies emerge.

I think as a nation, we should definitely keep this in mind and act more responsibly in its regard. In turn as well, who wants to end up having to wait in an emergency room for four hours straight ?

4) What makes Tabib special ?

I fell in love with the ease, the security and the overall aid you get from their team. I had a small issue once which resulted in the need of a refund and within a day, this was resolved in the friendliest of manners.

I can definitely recommend Tabib as a telehealth platform to use and I wish them the very best for the future. Obviously it doesn’t replace a face to face visit if that’s what anyone in my family needs, but it really cuts out a large number of logistical nightmares that i would have to go through for some advice the doctor can easily give me over a telehealth visit.

Second patient – a local, middle-aged expat residing in Malta

1). As an expat on this island, were you already used to such a service in your own home country ?

Yes, I used it in the past when I was living in the UK so I was glad to see it happening
in Malta as well.

2) Do you think that telehealth services here on the island were much needed?

Definitely, regardless of the tiny size of the island it still just takes too long to travel,
wait in a queue etc. especially when there’s no need to physically see a doctor in many cases. I think it also allows the elderly and those who really have to see a doctor to do it faster and not have to wait in long queues.

3) Could you kindly run us through your experience with ? How would you say that benefited you?

Since I’m used to teleworking and conferencing, it didn’t feel strange to speak to a doctor. I felt more comfortable as it was more efficient and I didn’t have to enter a waiting room where I would have bumped into sick patients so I’m glad I could have avoided that. I also don’t drive so it was a huge convenience and a big exercise in time-saving not having to catch a bus.

I don’t think I will go back to seeing a doctor in person unless I feel like I really have to show my symptoms in person or of course my doctor advises me to so, this is just so much easier.

4) Do you think Malta is coming to terms with the benefits of telehealth?

I think it’s still going to be a while until people get used to being able to do their errands, appointments etc. online. Malta is a small country so distance isn’t that much of a problem, hence these things take longer to kick in, ironically though, traffic and parking are a nightmare so the distances are short but the time is still considerable. The trend has to be reinforced by doctors and healthcare professionals themselves for it to really kick in and gain the public’s trust.

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