Consulting with your Doctor online
Every day we see new ways that Covid-19 is restructuring our lives.
One of the ironies is that at times when we’re more concerned with our health than ever before – such as when there’s a community outbreak – we cannot see our doctors face-to-face.
Cue the rise of online health portals – a huge boon for both patients and health professionals.
With many of these platforms, think of it as a Zoom meeting with your GP. If you’re feeling unwell you can talk to a doctor without putting either of you at risk. No need to travel, hang out in a waiting room with all those other sick people.
Sure, you can’t get your blood pressure checked online but – depending what app or platform you’re using – you can get a range a diagnostic test sent to your home.
But as with many new processes and approaches as part of a more digital lifestyle now adays, to really make the most of online health apps or portals it’s best to have good internet with ideally a fibre broadband connection. And in the case of online consults it’s advisable to also have plenty of upload bandwidth for high quality video calling.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a few of the options for online health checks:
Tend was founded by high-profile businesswoman Cecilia Robinson after she and husband James experienced a number of problems trying to have children. When the Robinsons felt they weren’t getting answers to their questions from the New Zealand health system, they ended up doing consults with overseas-based doctors via Skype. That gave them the belief that a virtual clinic could work. They also have a physical clinic in Auckland and the same doctors handle both the in-person and online consults.
Bettr is the online portal for Tamaki Health which owns the White Cross and Local Doctor clinics around the country. Bettr back themselves on pricing and immediacy. Patients registered with Tamaki Health can get a consultation for as little as $10 while it’s $49 for non-registered patients and free for under-14s.
Care HQ is backed by Southern Cross and Pro Care, the Auckland-based co-operative of general practice clinics. Consultations can be booked between 7am and 7pm, 7 days a week. It costs $65 per consultation – less if you’re a Southern Cross member.
Well Revolution was set up by one of our Chorus Geniuses, Dr Sasha Klijakovic or ‘Dr Sash’. It’s a fresh approach to healthcare that grew from her frustrations with the New Zealand health system while at medical school.
As well as 24/7 online consultations, Well Revolution also specializes in sexually transmitted diseases – an acknowledgement that sometimes there are things that are just too hard to talk about and you just want the answers.
If you think you may have picked up an unwelcome infection you can order a test online (from syphilis to HIV) and have it delivered to your door. You can then consult with a doctor and get the prescription delivered.
In addition to Well Revolution, Dr Sash also uses social media to bring health and wellbeing information and advice to thousands of Kiwis through live videos.
Manage My Health
Online health portals are on the rise in New Zealand. According to the Ministry of Health around 700 practices nationwide offer portals and more 1.2 million New Zealanders use an online portal to access their health records and make appointments.
Manage My Health offers video consults, but it’s primarily set up as an access point where you can view your medical records, make appointments, and order repeat prescriptions. Your GP or medical centre needs to be signed up to Manage My Health for you to register and after that it’s easy. They also offer and online wellbeing service called Beating The Blues, for people suffering from depression. It’s free with a prescription.
In all this, it pays to remember that online consultations – as easy and secure as they are – are no substitute for seeing a doctor if it’s an emergency.
And if you do decide to give them a try make sure your broadband connection is up to the task first.