The University Hospital of Zurich provides a medical online consultation service since 1999. Our aim was to characterise the users of an online consultation with queries regarding maxillofacial surgery, to analyse the content of their questions and to study the actions by the internet doctors with the ambition of defining whether the telemedical consultation is a useful tool in this surgical field.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
The procedure of inductive category development described by MAYRING was used. A professional text analysis program MAXQDA supported the process of analysis. 204 questions were evaluated.
Men sent 37% of the questions, 48% originated by women, mean age was 38 years. Often they asked for information about medical therapies or pharmaceuticals (n=74) and about specific disease or an injury (n=26). The three most common maxillofacial surgery topics were sinusitis (n=21), aphthae in the mouth (n=17) and basal cell carcinoma (n=14).
Online consultation is not only understood as a first contact with the healthcare system but also as a centre to get professional further and detailed information and advice after a doctor visit, especially about chronic diseases and infections. Online consultation can complement the traditional healthcare and conventional physician-patient relationship in maxillofacial surgery.