Article
May 30, 2022

Fernarzt: Impact of telemedicine and prescription medication

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Fernarzt continues to improve the lives of its users. In addition to improvements in patient and doctor satisfaction, it has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Find out how the telemedicine platform is making a difference in Germany.

Fernarzt-infographic

Unnecessary inefficiencies in healthcare

About 40 percent of people in Germany waited more than three days for a doctor appointment in 2021.[1]

Unfortunately, this statistic has not changed much recently; given the global pandemic and predicted shortages of doctors, it is unlikely to improve without a major upgrade to healthcare infrastructure.

The rise of telemedicine presents a window of opportunity for the enduring problem of long waits for a doctor’s appointment. It has enjoyed popularity and political backing even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The current Minister of Health in Germany, Dr. Karl Lauterbach, has acknowledged the importance of digital healthcare numerous times, stating that “through the introduction of telemedicine and the electronic prescription, countless in-person doctor appointments can be avoided. Doctors will be able to spend more time on their difficult cases.”[2]

Fernarzt.com was founded in 2017 on the idea that organising medical information in a user-friendly way and providing secure digital channels for communication improves the doctor-patient relationship and saves everyone time. Like all portfolio companies in the HealthHero group, Fernarzt operates on the principle that simplifying healthcare also improves lives.

Response to a clear market demand

The early success of the Fernarzt platform in Germany came from a clear market demand for a solution to the problem of obtaining recurring prescription medications. Traditionally, patients must visit their doctor’s office every time they need a refill prescription medication, such as blood pressure medication, medication for migraines, or a refill of their regular contraceptive.

In collaboration with medical specialists, Fernarzt built a digital tool called the Form-Filled-Prescription (FFP). This condition-specific questionnaire efficiently captures relevant information from the patient and presents it in an organised digital patient history for prescribing physicians. The medical doctor reviews the case history, asks follow-up questions, and either approves or denies the request. Thanks to a partnership with a leading pharmacy chain, Fernarzt can quickly deliver the prescribed medication to the users who choose that option.

Improving lives through better access to healthcare

The Fernarzt FFP tool and user-friendly website continue to improve the lives of its users. With over 5,000 patient reviews and an average 4.9-star rating, Fernarzt has become an industry leader in customer satisfaction. One user said, “I’ve just ordered my prescription medication for a second time through Fernarzt. Questions asked during this process were more thorough and competent than what my regular doctor asks! I’m so excited about Fernarzt!” Overall, Fernarzt users praise the fast and uncomplicated interactions with their online physicians. 

Fernarzt FFP is a time-saving tool found to be extremely useful by doctors. As Dr. Robert Barry points out, “Fernarzt is a true innovator in digital medicine and has dramatically reduced my workload per patient. Each patient is automatically asked all relevant questions in advance. This acts as an important safety guard and reduces error. Data is presented in a concise and comprehensive format, facilitating a timely review by the overseeing clinician. It is easy to retrieve historical data, and I found that flagging critical data points is particularly useful. The tool allows me to get a much better understanding of the history of each patient. In doing so, I can determine their needs more accurately and safely.”

The FFP tool continues to expand the number of conditions it can solve, currently covering 27 different indications. Usually, patients complete the questionnaire within three to five minutes, and they are reviewed within an hour by a certified doctor. Fernarzt is committed to developing a healthcare platform that complies with the highest standards of data privacy. User data is accessible through a user account and stored on servers in Germany. Any user data that is relevant to the diagnosis or prescription of a patient will only be seen by the treating doctor.

Better for people and better for the environment

In addition to improvements in patient and doctor satisfaction, this approach has the potential to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global climate change.. [3] Automotive pollution has been widely reported to contribute significantly to climate change via the release of greenhouse gases. Within the EU, transport alone is responsible for nearly 30% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions.[4]

People in Germany drive different distances to a GP appointment depending on where they live. For a visit to a general practitioner, people living in more rural areas only drive 4 additional minutes to get to the doctor’s office. But for specialist appointments, the amount of time that rural residents spend driving is usually double that of people living in major cities or metropolitan areas. The average driving time to a paediatrician’s practice, for example, only takes 16 minutes for city residents but is a 32-minute drive for someone living in a rural region. For a dermatologist appointment, the travel time is only 20 minutes for a city-dweller, while the average rural resident drives 42 minutes for their dermatological appointments.[5]

A virtual appointment can often replace an in-person medical consultation. But just how much can telemedicine actually reduce CO2 emissions?

The Fernarzt team took a deep dive to understand the total CO2 emissions saved by its users during one calendar year. By using the FFP tool instead of driving to their doctor’s appointment, Fernarzt users saved an estimated 173.1 tonnes of CO2. That’s the equivalent of driving 23 times around the Earth or the amount of carbon dioxide that is captured by 8,654 trees!

With strong support among patients, doctors and the political system, as well as having a proven beneficial impact on the environment, Fernarzt is leading the way towards the gentle revolution in healthcare, one in which collaboration, not disruption, is the means to developing digital products with a demonstrable positive impact. Telemedicine in the form of FFP has proven to be a powerful digital tool for both people and the planet.

What Patients Say About Fernarzt

  • “When I made my first order half a year ago, I was (as a born pessimist) extremely sceptical. But everything has worked very smoothly!”
  • “I’ve just ordered my prescription medication for a second time through Fernarzt. The questions I was asked in this process were more competent and thorough than what my regular doctor asks! I’m so excited about Fernarzt.com!”
  • “Simple and uncomplicated. This is the place where you get help. It’s a ray of light in our messed-up healthcare system.”
  • “I am happy, my wife is happy. Everything is beautiful. Thank you.”
  • “The medication is great, the customer service is great, the delivery is great. What else can one ask for?”
  • “I would like to say thank you for the fast and competent advice. Stay healthy and keep up the good work.”
  • “This is the future!”

You can read more user reviews over at TrustedShops.de.

About Fernarzt

Fernarzt is digital access to excellent healthcare in Germany. Since 2017, the company has dedicated itself to making healthcare delivery simpler and friendlier with the help of digital solutions. Fernarzt is a user-friendly and efficient way for patients to connect with doctors, whether through video, telephone consultations or questionnaire-based consultations for prescription medications. Since 2020, Fernarzt has been a proud member of the HealthHero Group, one of the largest digital health providers in Europe.

Research:

[1] KBV August 2021. Versichertenbefragung der Kassenärztlichen Bundesvereinigung 2021.  Accessed February 15, 2022.

[2] Handelsblatt Inside Digital Health Issue dated December 9, 2021

[3] Our World in Data. “CO2 Emissions” Accessed February 15, 2022.

[4] European Parliament News. CO2 from cars: facts and figures. Accessed February 16, 2022.

[5] Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss September 2018. Gutachten zur Weiterentwicklung der Bedarfsplanung i.S.d. §§ 99 ff. SGB V zur Sicherung Accessed February 16, 2022

 

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