Typical Telehealth Encounter: Perspective of the Health Worker
Imagine that you are a physician, nurse or other health worker caring for patients in a medically underserved area of the world.
If you’re a physician whose patient has a complex problem and would benefit from consultation with a medical, surgical or mental health specialist but none is available locally, you can access a volunteer specialist through the Global Telehealth Network.
You’ll enter the patient’s history, exam findings, lab results, tentative diagnosis, perceived degree of urgency and other relevant information into a standardized health record and upload it to GTN’s website.
You or an assistant will have already pre-entered baseline information about your training, experience and practice situation, including the organization with which you work, the resources available at your site, and the languages you speak, so you won’t need to waste time repeating that task.
When you upload your request, GTN’s matching algorithm will immediately determine which volunteer somewhere in the world is best qualified to help you and your patient. Depending on your specified degree of urgency, the system will select either a health professional who can help right now or one who is even more appropriate and can be available soon enough to meet your needs.
When you upload your request, GTN’s matching algorithm will immediately determine which volunteer somewhere in the world is best qualified to help you and your patient.
Each of GTN’s volunteers has completed a detailed professional profile, and the algorithm will look first for a physician or psychologist with the necessary skills who is located in your country or its diaspora. If none is available, it will look for someone who has experience in your country or region – possibly even through a medical mission at your facility – and already understands the language, culture and health care system.
If there is still no match, the system will select the volunteer who has the most appropriate training, experience and interests, giving preference to one who speaks your language and won’t need to use our video translation services.
Other Health Professionals
If you’re a nurse, Physician Assistant, mental health worker or other trained health professional located in a place where no doctors are available to back you up, we can help you, too.
The process is very similar to that for a physician seeking a consultation. You’ll enter the patient’s history and exam findings into your smart phone, tablet or laptop and upload the information to GTN’s website, where you’ll also indicate your sense of urgency. You will have already entered a profile with information about yourself and your work situation when you were trained to use our system.
In many cases, the system will match you with a primary care physician who can provide the help that you need, and who can obtain consultation with a specialist if necessary. However, if the algorithm determines there’s a high likelihood that you’ll need a specialty consultation to solve the problem, it may connect you directly with a medical or surgical specialist.
Community Health Workers
A growing number of countries are recognizing the value of Community Health Workers (CHW) – sometimes referred to as Village Health Workers or Volunteer Health Workers – who are trained and supported by an NGO or Ministry of Health.
GTN and its partners can train CHWs to use our network to connect with the health systems in their countries, so they can get prompt support when they encounter patients with trauma, illness or communicable diseases. If no assistance is available in-country, our international team of physician volunteers is available to help.
Mental Health Issues
Our discussion so far has focused mostly on patients with medical problems, but many times the need for assistance relates to behavioral health issues.
In countries that have physicians, psychologists or other mental health workers who are connected with GTN, they will be first in line to help.
However, if none are available, GTN’s international psychiatrist and psychologist volunteers are available to provide assistance.