We have nearly 3.85M mobile phone connections in NZ as of 30 June 2017. Every one of these mobiles has a data connection. Why is this important? Because in 2017, 124,000 adults did not visit a GP because of lack of transport, but they all have a mobile.
Every year over 100,000 New Zealanders can’t see a GP when they need to because they cannot travel. Which is why to address this, we designed our product to work on low-cost consumer devices. The Doctor2Go telehealth service facilitates virtual visits with a healthcare professional. This access allows patients to speak with a doctor or registered nurse about their health concerns without the expenses incurred by travelling to a healthcare provider. This is particularly beneficial for people living in rural communities where the closest medical centre can often be kilometres away, and for those who for some reason or other cannot or are unable to use public transport.
Patients with chronic medical conditions can be monitored by the Doctor2Go Medical Team. Telehealth services like Doctor2Go take the stress out of medical visits. According to the Ministry of Health, for the period 2012-2017 between 101,000 and 124,000 people could not visit a GP because they lacked transport.
This is an important problem for which telehealth could be the solution. The advantages of using a telehealth service such as Doctor2Go include:
Convenience. We cut out all of the unnecessary factors that impede access to timely healthcare such as the time taken to get to a facility; waiting in the waiting room; talking to the doctor; and planning transport there and back. With telehealth access, patients have the convenience of speaking with their doctor right on their computer, phone, or tablet. And they can do this without having to worry about getting back late to work, or being late for their appointments.
Lower costs. Costs associated with transport can be avoided. The Doctor2Go nurse can schedule appointments for employees at their places of work during working hours so that they do not miss out on work time or income.
Greater access. Patients living in small towns have limited GP options and those living in rural areas may need to travel for several hours to find a medical practitioner. Telemedicine allows access of quality healthcare to every patient regardless of location.
Better Health. When patients are able to see a doctor as often as needed without facing the challenges of getting to a doctor’s office, they can better manage their medication, lifestyle and chronic conditions. Additionally, their overall quality of life can improve. This is particularly important for those with compromised immune systems, who need not bear the added worry of waiting in a room filled with disease-causing vectors.
Early Detection. Because patients have access to healthcare 24/7, preventative measures can be put in place early in the process. Progress of disease can be arrested in the early stages before it becomes more difficult and costly to treat.
Why should so many New Zealanders have to go through such difficulty in accessing healthcare services because of factors external to their healthcare needs? With Doctor 2Go, we can eliminate factors like geographical and temporal barriers. Gaining access to the Doctor 2Go telehealth platform is as simple as connecting via mobile phone, tablet, or computer. Unimpeded access to healthcare services equates to satisfactory health outcomes and therefore a healthier population.
Deshpande, V. (2017). Who bears the costs and receives the benefits of Telehealth?
Rehm, J. (2016). Telemedicine: The cost-effective future of Healthcare.
CIS (2017). What are the advantages of Telemedicine for patients.