With the sudden shift to Level 4 lockdown for New Zealand, Bettr Online Doctors made the move to set up a working from home pilot, trialling doctors to complete shifts and provide online consultations at home. Last Tuesday, Online Doctor Matt Smith completed the very first, Bettr home consultation. His initial thoughts on the process were entirely positive.
“I’ve only done two shifts so far, so I’m just sort of getting started. The actual work part of it is really the same because what we do normally is stay in a room, see 20 – 30 patients and then come back out again, so it’s quite similar from that point of view. The main difference is it’s hugely convenient in terms of not having to travel, you can personalise your own space and get the comfort level right for you.”
Matt says it’s not just about the convenience for him, but the potential safety that the move could offer during lockdowns for employees.
“The biggest thing at the moment is that it feels like a safe environment. You’re limiting the essential worker contact essential workplaces by lessening the number of people bumping into each other. For some of the team who have health conditions it’s also safer, and gives you that level of resilience and always being able to help out as well. For example, if you have a cough or cold and you can’t be at a clinic, if you’re feeling well enough you can work.”
The set-up processes, assisted by Young, Samir and the entire IT team was also incredibly seamless.
“It was really, really simple for me. Young came along with an IT kit for me to take home. There were some options around what were for available, for example one of our Doctors, Moshin, said he was quite happy with what he had at home already, whereas I wanted a bit more of a separate set-up.
Young was able to open up the laptop, show me how to access everything, so when I got home all I had to do was plug things in, connect to the wifi and I was good to go.”
In terms of the patient experience, the Bettr process remains the same while working from home, and overall the patients that Matt saw throughout his day were positive and thankful for the service. For the most part, he is able to treat most conditions that present in a day.
“When we go through the booking process it becomes self-evident the type of problems that are more suited to online. We tend to get young people with families, people just wanting advice, people who want quite straightforward things (an employer might say you need a certificate for leave) which we can easily do. Prescriptions as well – all of that is very ideally suited to an online environment.”
There are even ways around treating issues that require an examination and diagnosis, Matt adds.
“Sometimes if people are on the phone it’s not ideal for looking at certain conditions. For things like skin conditions we’ll get people to actually take photos and email them to us which is a much clearer picture to make a diagnosis.”
In terms of the future for Bettr, Matt feels that if the trial continues to go well during lockdown, there might be room to continue the work from home set up.
“Outside of lockdown I see that there is a definite future for continuing with doctors working from home. There are doctors already who have needed to isolate because they’ve been on a contact list, and they’ve been given access to Medtech, Public Healthcare Systems and they’ve been able to perform tasks from home quite happily, so there’s actually a lot of people working from home outside Bettr too.”
So far there are three Bettr doctors trialling work from home, and the results have been resoundingly positive – a great achievement for the team.