Service brings health care directly to the patient

VISITING a doctor can be a frustration for anyone; there's the waiting, the travel too and from the clinic and now, the added worry of coronavirus contamination.

It was a problem that needed a solution which has seen local GPs at the Health Lodge in Byron Bay, use healthdirect video call to ensure they meet their clients needs, albeit virtually.

Simon and Reine DuBois work at the Health Lodge and said the system, which has been specifically designed for the medical industry, had been useful to help service clients in far away locations.

"It deals with a lot of issues really well, like the tyranny of distance. Accessibility anywhere, we can now have patients in other parts of Australia and match the need of the patient to the practitioner and that generates a level of affordability as well," Dr Simon DuBois said.

Having used other apps in the past to provide telehealth services, Reine DuBois said it was the ease for consumers which made healthdirect a standout.

We previously used Zoom and Skype … but it was clunky for patients, they'd have to download programs but with healthdirect there was no need to download programs, they need a computer with a camera and a microphone and they could use it, they could even run it through their mobile phones." Dr Reine DuBois said

The Health Lodge has moved to a 100 per cent online, which was in large part due to the help and input of the North Coast Primary Health Network.

"It was also the help and support of the primary health network, who have worked closely with medical practices to get telehealth up and running … and through very direct support they helped us get that running and able to support us afterwards with any problems as well," Dr Simon DuBois said.

The North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) is able to help individual GPs, GP clinics, and all allied health practitioners to set up the healthdirect video call platform at no cost. They will also provide training and support.

NCPHN said most doctors in northern NSW have taken up on telehealth during the pandemic.

Of 101 GP clinics surveyed, 85 per cent said they are now offering either phone or video appointments.

All clinics were still offering face-to-face appointments - and this was still the main form of appointment for 15 per cent.

Other clinics said they had moved to a 50-50 telehealth and face-to-face mix.

To date, 2484 video appointments have been conducted via the platform, with mental health services being among the most widely adopted.


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