Travel medicine in the age of coronavirus
With COVID-19 highlighting the importance of travel medicine like never before, is there an opportunity for GPs to make a greater contribution?
- Traditionally, only 30-50% of travellers seek medical advice before they travel, with those visiting family and friends the least likely to do so. If they do seek advice, it is most commonly from a GP.
- The defining feature of travel medicine is risk assessment, which includes a thorough evaluation of the patient’s health, medical history and destination-specific risks, including the epidemiology of infectious diseases in the region of travel and itinerary-specific risks, such as length of travel, type of accommodation, urban versus rural travel, modes of transport and higher-risk activities.
- Travel advice is time-consuming, so break up the discussion into a few consults or schedule at least 20 minutes.
- Define your scope of travel medicine practice before starting to see patients. In some cases, referral will be needed to provide specific interventions.
- Referral is also necessary if a returned traveller has symptoms