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New Zealanders looking to chat to a GP without visiting doctors waiting rooms during lockdown are turning to online health consultation platform, Bettr.
The platform was launched last month by Local Doctors and White Cross, owned by New Zealand’s largest independent primary healthcare group Tāmaki Health. It is the first purpose-built at scale virtual consultation platform serviced by doctors from 48 clinics in Tāmaki’s network which includes Local Doctors and White Cross clinics.
Tāmaki Health Chief Executive Officer, Steffan Crausaz, says the platform has seen double its normal bookings since lockdown was announced on Tuesday.
“The demand for online health platforms has obviously seen a massive increase since the announcement of lockdown and it’s great to see the platform performing well for patients. We’ve seen bookings increase by 100% just on the first day of lockdown.
“Bettr is a secure, easy to use and affordable platform that is accessible across the country. However, we do stress that it will never eliminate the need for face to face consultations altogether and people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Healthline and get tested immediately,” said Crausaz.
Bettr enables patients, registered or non-registered, to have consultations in the convenience and safety of their own home on a smartphone or other personal device and ensures patient notes are securely stored.
Crausaz said that unlike some other providers in New Zealand, Tāmaki Health had not launched Bettr in response to COVID-19 as an ad-hoc addition to existing systems.
“We did provide over 25,000 remote consults during the first lockdown and we have applied those learnings to Bettr. While designed to operate as an ongoing complimentary service as part of our long-term strategy to provide affordable access to healthcare for all, it is extremely helpful during times like these,” Crausaz said.
Though Kiwis based in Auckland looking to see a doctor in person are still able to visit most of the Local Doctors and White Cross clinics or one of the three designated centres set up for COVID-19 testing only.
Director of Urgent Care for Tāmaki Health, Dr Alistair Sullivan, says the Bettr platform is backed by the same network of trusted Local Doctors and White Cross doctors who can also provide face to face consultations.
“We’ve taken on board many learnings from the first lockdown to deliver a healthcare service that is as safe and effective as possible. We have a screening process that ensures the safety of patients and our staff so Aucklanders who want or need to see a nurse or a GP face to face can.
“We also have three testing centres in St Lukes, Henderson and Airport Oaks where we would advise people to get tested if they’ve consulted Healthline and believe they’re displaying symptoms of COVID-19,” said Dr Sullivan.