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A Successful Telehealth Practice – аn Interview with Assoc. Prof. Alexander Shinkov, MD – а Specialist in Endocrinology and Internal Medicine

From the Blog series: “Best reviewed telehealth practice”

Among the COVID-19 pandemic, each month we celebrate the dedicated doctors nominated by patients for the best-reviewed telehealth practice via Healee.

The doctor whom we have interviewed and whom we will introduce to you today delivers online consultations via Healee alongside his in-person consultations, and who has been nominated as the best-reviewed doctor by patients using Healee for June.

Meet Assoc. Prof. Alexander Shinkov, an endocrinologist with more than 20 years of experience, who received many fantastic reviews from his patients last month.

“This is my second consultation with Assoc. Prof. Alexander Shinkov and again I have an excellent impression of him. He is highly professional, very careful, and precise. He considers the patient’s problems and always offers solutions. He answered all the questions I asked”

“Assoc. Prof. Shinkov is very attentive. He explains every situation in an understandable manner. He is patient and always shows empathy. I am thankful for having him as my doctor!”

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov graduated from the Medical University in Sofia in 1994 gaining his specialty in Internal medicine in 2001. He received his Ph.D. in endocrinology again at the Medical University in Sofia.

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov is part of the European Society of Endocrinology, the American Thyroid Association, the Bulgarian Society of Endocrinology, the European Thyroid Association, and the Endocrine Society.

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov has scientific interests mainly in thyroid and parathyroid diseases and metabolic bone diseases. He treats patients with thyroid gland problems, calcium-phosphorus metabolism, hormonal and metabolic disorders, osteoporosis. Assoc. Prof. Shinkov has taken part in many national and international congresses and seminars in his specialty, including as a lecturer.

Darik Radio selected him as the best doctor in Bulgaria in the field of Endocrinology and metabolic diseases. He is an associate professor at the University Specialized Hospital for Active The Treatment of Endocrinology “Acad. Ivan Penchev” in Sofia and he also has an independent practice as an endocrinologist in Sofia since 1999.

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov you have over 20 years of experience as an endocrinologist, can you tell us when and why you started providing telemedicine to your patients as an addition to your in-person practice?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: Modern medicine is among the rapidly developing branches of knowledge. With the parallel advent of digital technology, the integration between the two is becoming more apparent. One result of this process is telemedicine. I don’t think telemedicine can completely replace clinical practice with in-person contact with the patient at the moment, but it can complement it. That is why I adopted Healee as a valuable addition to my work.

What were your first impressions of the telemedicine application for doctors (Healee MD) and how did this affect your work schedule?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: The platform completely met my expectations after my first online consultations. It works smoothly, without glitches, and patients also make a good sense of it. My work schedule has not changed. My working hours extended because I have more consultations than before, and sometimes it happens that I use my free time for providing telehealth consultations. This often happens when patients set a short response time during the holidays.

What kind of topics, therapies, and treatments do you cover with telemedicine?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: With telemedicine, I can be useful to two groups of patients. The first group are patients who I have already examined and with whom we have already reached a treatment plan. The second group consists of people who turned to me for help for the first time. With this group, I have to be more careful because I have to assess carefully if I can make the first consultation via telehealth or not and what is the risk of missing something important. The biggest benefit of Healee is that it allows easy exchange of documents (all kinds of formats) between doctors and patients.

What tips do you follow to ensure a smooth tele-endocrinology visit?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: First, when a patient comes to me, I ask myself if this condition is in my specialty and whether I can help. There have been cases where I have to tell the patient that I cannot assist them and they have to turn to someone else. The second thing I do is gather all the details of the patient’s health data that I need in order to provide high-quality care. In most cases, the consultation involves me asking clarifying questions, asking about additional information like the patient’s health history and previous treatments and medications, etc. Third, whenever I think it is necessary,  I invite the patient for an in-person consultation in my office – for example, for an ultrasound. For me, it’s vital that I do not miss something important in the process.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, have you experienced any changes in your virtual consultations with patients?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: I believe that COVID-19 is the reason some patients turned to me for a virtual consultation in the first place.

Patients seem very fond of the telemedicine you provide. Ten patients left 5-star reviews last month on the platform. What would you advise other doctors who have not yet welcomed telehealth into their medical practice and these who are uncertain if they should try it?

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: Taking up telehealth as an addition to your practice is a matter of personal choice. Every doctor should decide for themselves if a telehealth platform will help them in their work and make them feel comfortable. If the answer is yes, I highly recommend it. If the answer is no, they should continue with their in-person consultations like before.

In your opinion, what would be the future of telehealth in endocrinology? 

Assoc. Prof. Shinkov: What I see as the future of telehealth in endocrinology is:

  • overcoming physical boundaries- when patients from different locations will have access to online care
  • use of remote collection and analysis of health data via wearable devices
  • providing telemedicine consultations
  • use of computer systems for descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analysis, including storage of large data for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes
  • monitoring the effect of treatment – for example, hormonal control and constant glucose

Thank you, Assoc. Prof. Shinkov for this interview and the exceptional care you provide to patients.

You can learn more about Assoc. Prof. Shinkov and contact him here

You can follow us and read our blog post series on the blog page. If you want to read about more successful telemedicine practices, you can find our interview with Dr. Lazarov, an obstetrician-gynecologist, who received the best reviews for May here.

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