Modern life as we know it today has been shaped by the rise of the internet in tandem with innovative technologies. It has transformed how we stay in touch with family and friends and purchase goods and services, including healthcare services.

Telehealth is fueled by digital technologies that have reimagined how healthcare professionals can provide their services to patients.



Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare services through digital communication technologies. Patients can make online appointments that enable them to receive ongoing care from their healthcare professionals when an in-person visit isn’t required or possible.

The main goal of Telehealth is to make healthcare services more accessible to people with limited mobility, time or transportation options and people living in isolated or rural communities. Telehealth rose in popularity during the COVID-19 outbreak, where many were obligated to isolate to minimise the spread of the virus. 



  • Lower costs: The cost of a Telehealth appointment may vary from one healthcare provider to the next. However, there are fewer secondary expenses, such as the loss of productive time and transportation.
  • Improved access to care: Telehealth enables more access to healthcare services to people who  have limited mobility, time or transportation options.
  • Convenience: Telehealth makes it more convenient for patients to access care in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. 
  • Preventative care and adherence: Telehealth makes it easier for people to access preventative care for improved long-term health. This is especially true for those who face financial or geographic challenges. Better access waterfalls into better communication, making follow-up appointments effortless.
  • Slowing the spread of infection: This goes without saying: when patients visit a healthcare facility, they are exposed to other sick individuals. Telehealth eliminates the risk of cross-infection.


  • Reduced expenses: Providers may enjoy reduced costs. For example, they may invest in an office space with fewer consultation rooms or pay less for front desk support.
  • Additional revenue: Adding Telehealth as a service may supplement the provider’s income because it allows them to care for more patients.
  • Patient satisfaction: Due to the convenience and accessibility that patients experience with Telehealth, this may increase overall patient satisfaction.
  • Less exposure to infections: With online appointments, a provider does not have to worry about exposure to any pathogens that a patient may carry and potentially spread.



  • Medical aid coverage: Not all medical aids may cover the costs of a Telehealth appointment. It’s the patient’s responsibility to determine whether their specific medical aid covers the costs.
  • Protection of data: Unfortunately, there is the risk of hackers or other criminals that may access a patient’s medical data – primarily if the patient accesses telehealth on a public network or via an unencrypted channel. Both parties must use a secure and protected channel that adheres to privacy laws.
  • Care delays: Telehealth may prove to be helpful with general consultations and follow-ups, but it is not recommended for emergency care. Using Telehealth as a first option may delay treatment since a practitioner cannot digitally offer life-saving care or laboratory tests.


  • Technological concerns: Providers must ensure that the platform they choose to conduct Telehealth consultations is stable, secure and fully compliant with privacy laws.
  • Inability to examine patients: It is challenging to conduct a physical examination via a Telehealth appointment. Lab tests, for example, may require a blood draw or cheek swab, both of which are impossible to collect virtually.


Many practices follow a similar process:

An appointment is made, the patient arrives, the patient provides their medical history, the healthcare professional leads the consultation, the patient is billed, and the bill is paid by the patient or their medical aid.

Practitioners should identify where new Telehealth tasks should be implemented in the existing in-patient processes and change and optimise those processes. The following diagram shows which existing business processes are used during Telehealth where new tasks should be implemented. Examples of additional or changed tasks are listed below:


Instead of patients calling reception to book appointments, timeslots can be configured on the online Telehealth platform to make their own bookings.


As soon as a Telehealth appointment is made, an electronic form can be sent to the patient to complete their information and pre-consultation questionnaires that will be immediately available to the practitioner before the consultation. This gives the practitioner time to prepare and have all the necessary information at hand.


An online Telehealth platform will enable the practitioner and patient to connect via video call through links that are available to both parties. Patients can wait for the consultation until the practitioner enters the platform and it prevents the parties from missing the call.


Electronic appointments can immediately be scrutinised by administrative staff and any additional information can be collected and verified.


The call can be recorded and all notes can be made electronically to ensure correct and up to date information. The examination will obviously take a different form than a physical examination in the practice, but there are numerous ways in which practitioners can verify a patient’s physical status.


Before the consultation ends, the practitioner can already bill the consultation.


The practitioner can send a medical aid claim or an electronic payment link to the patient even before the consultation ends. As soon as the patient makes the payment, or the medical aid claim is confirmed, the practitioner can confirm to the patient that the account is settled.


Receipts will be allocated to patient accounts once payment is received either via electronic remittance advice from the medical aid or an electronic patient payment remittance advice.


Implementing Telehealth will benefit the practice and it is, therefore, worth the effort of exploring this option.

For detailed information on how to implement Telehealth, a FREE CPD course for 2 CEU is available on Click here to view our free online CPD course: Telehealth Practice Management.