As we have expanded and started to offer advice in Malawi and also take on more clinical officers in Zambia, we thought it would be helpful to do a quick post of what to include in your referral to the Virtual Doctors advisors.
The picture below highlights the most important information to include.
Observations are really important so that we can advise upon the urgency of a clinical decision and get an idea of how unwell your patient is.
Knowing their background- age, gender and whether they have known HIV is really helpful as we can then rule in or rule out certain diagnoses.
Understanding why they have come to see you and what their main complaint is, is probably the most important thing to know, but putting this in context, by knowing if they have any past medical history or take any medication is also very important. If they have no past history and take no medication, please say so!
As we reply upon what you tell us, sending us any relevant examination findings, including photos is really useful. You are our eyes in the field! Our advice can only be as good as the information we receive!
Part of the process is to help with learning and education. It is helpful for us to know what you are thinking. What do you think is going on with the patient? Most importantly, what are you worried about? what do you want help with?
Please try and be specific when possible. This will help us be able to offer you the best advice we can to benefit the patients and clinical officers using the service.