I will be sharing with you my experience doing an online consultation in the Philippines. You probably know by now that there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to telehealth platforms. Let’s see if my experience with this telehealth app is something you’d like to consider trying.
First, let me start by enumerating some of the kind of known telehealth companies in the country, in no particular order: KonsultaMD, Medifi, HealthNow, AIDE, DOCPH, and NowServing by Serious MD.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this platform nor promoting their services. This is for informational purposes only.
The app I used was NowServing by Serious MD. It didn’t take me hours to decide which telehealth platform to use, not because I was confident with them but because I was a bit in a hurry at the time and the app seemed user-friendly. Besides, it was easy to find the specialist. Below you’ll see screenshots of how I booked a consultation. On this app, you can easily sort the doctor specializations, diagnosed conditions, medical services, among other things.
What I like about NowServing:
- User-friendly; Straightforward
- Long list of options when it comes to choosing doctors, services, etc.
- Getting a prescription and lab requests from a doctor is convenient and there’s even an option to buy the medications from their affiliated pharmacy like Watsons
- The feature where you can filter the search results is so useful.
- Payment processing is fast and simple
- All the doctors seem verifiable and most of them have many years of experience
- Booking an appointment is not complicated with an easy way to get in touch with doctors
- With detailed information about the doctors: from the schools they graduated to the location of their clinics
- With plethora of choices when it comes to specializations, diagnostic conditions, medical services, hospitals, and more
- Rates mainly depend on years of experience but there are also experienced physicians that offer an affordable pricing
- They give refund. (Not sure if others did get their refund or if users of the app had a positive experience about this)
What I do not like about NowServing:
- There is no guarantee that the doctor you pick is what you expect her/him to be.
- I paid 800 PHP but I only spoke to the doctor for 6 minutes.
- It was a bit disappointing and unsatisfactory. In this app, you cannot proceed in making an appointment (of course) if you do not pay first. In my case, I chose 5PM since the specialist of my choice had that availability on that day. It was upsetting and startling because the doctor confirmed my booking or appointment at a very late time and had the audacity to ring my phone at the time he just confirmed it: it was 8:30 PM. Imagine, my chosen time was 5PM and he called me at 8:30PM without even sending a message prior to that. It was like everything was okay and expected me to pick up my phone and go on with the consultation. If you were on my shoe, will you wait or be glued to your phone waiting for the doctor to contact you till 8:30PM?
- The doctor did not use a camera. The online consultation was 100% audio-only on his end. He just said ”I cannot use my camera because it is broken.” Whereas me the patient, I turned my camera because that was the right thing to do. So, I felt like I was swindled. This platform should require both the patient and doctor to have their cameras turned on!
- Their refund policy is vague and misleading. In my case, the doctor shouldn’t have called me to do the consultation since he was late confirming my slot and calling me. The time gap was huge: 5PM appointment, called me at 8:30PM with no prior notice. I should have gotten a refund and not suddenly get a call from a doctor, as if nothing’s happened.
Is It Worth It?
I’ve experienced this twice and I hated it. Let’s face it, in the Philippines especially in the country side, we don’t have many options when it comes to hospitals with doctor specializations and normally when we find one, we’re often referred to another ‘specialist‘: something many of us just end up delaying or giving up the consultation, lab work, and treatments altogether. So NO. Based on my experience, it’s not worth the money that I paid and the time and energy and effort and annoyance waiting for the doctor. They simply don’t care. I spoke with 2 doctors so far and they have one thing in common: this is business and they simply don’t care about our time. The service? Not even close to good or satisfactory. It’s beyond disappointing and discouraging.
Don’t worry because even though I don’t speak nicely about my telehealth experience, I know my opinion may differ to others. Every situation is different so.. below I share with you my advise or tips just in case you’d like to book an appointment whether online or face to face consultation. You wouldn’t want to miss it!
In my case, I tried online checkup because of this same reason. Specialists are almost nowhere to be found. We are so scarce in healthcare providers. It’s scary in times of emergencies because imagine, I’m in a big city but still I have a hard time finding a doctor where I can do an in-person checkup. Although hospitals have many clinics for doctors, they only spend few hours in their clinics and oftentimes, they’re close on weekends.
When I contacted the clinics to inquire and book an appointment, I found a few specialists from different hospitals but the problem was, most of them were on vacation or just not available to cater anyone. This is where the telehealth service comes into play. So, do we have a choice? If we go back to the question ‘is it worth it?’: my answer is still NO. Perhaps for some, it’s worth a try.
My advise to those who wish to consult a doctor online or in-person:
If you think your symptoms or current condition is not emergent or critical, I suggest doing a urinalysis and CBC first. You can do it without a doctor’s prescription (like what I did). All you have to do is go to a hospital where you can request for urinalysis and CBC and they’ll give you instructions on what to do (like filling out a short form, paying for it, etc.). Urinalysis is 250 PHP in Cebu City and CBC is 300 PHP. Make sure that your bladder is full before you go to the hospital which means that it’s best that you drink plenty of water (enough for you to have the urge to pee when you have to and not spend so much time waiting for yourself to have that urge to relieve). There are people who just buy a specimen bottle and they pee in their homes then bring it to the hospital/lab for testing. I don’t recommend it because most of the hospitals don’t allow it.
The reason why I highly advise to do urinalysis and CBC first is because, when we do a medical checkup regardless if it’s serious or just mild illness, doctors always request for lab work and the most common are urinalysis (urine testing or analysis of your urine) and CBC (complete blood test). Ultimately, if we do this before meeting up with a doctor, we can save money. Why? It’s because we don’t have to go back to the doctor just to interpret our lab work.
Imagine this, you went to a clinic for checkup (paid for it), you explained your concern and you received a prescription and lab request and the doctor said ‘come back for follow up after taking all the meds and doing the laboratory tests’. Coming back for follow up means another payment, right? Whereas if you do the usual lab tests first and when you get the results, that’s when you go to a clinic: this way, the doctor will not only interview you about your concern, but also prescribed you with the right medications based on what he sees on your lab results (because even if you can somehow comprehend the results of your lab work, it still best to be interpreted or seen by a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment). Although you may be advised to do a follow up check up and lab work, at least you saved time and money skipping the first consultation.
In summary, before you see a doctor, it’s best to do urinalysis and CBC first. Once you get the results, you bring and show it to the doctor (if it’s face to face checkup) or send a copy of the lab results (if the consultation is online). In this way, it’s like you’re hitting two birds with one stone.
And by the way! (I almost forget this very important tip..) Make sure you are free for the whole day on the day of your booked appointment. In this telehealth app, you cannot pick a specific time where the doctor will call you. So, if the doctor’s availability shows 7AM-11PM, it means he/she will call at any time. If you missed the call (which is likely to happen), chances are you have wait longer and end up more annoyed because for the most part, they don’t reply on your messages. But, it is what it is. Just go with the flow and as much as possible, hold your horses.