Medibank's Amplar Health is part of an expanded service in Northern New South Wales that aims to improve access to local health services.
North Coast Health Connect, recently launched to Kempsey Shire postcodes, offers a free 1800 phone number or live web chat for residents to speak with a registered nurse any time of the day or night, including public holidays.
The service is being funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN program and delivered by Amplar Health.
They are planning to make the service available to all North Coast residents by mid-2023.
Healthy North Coast’s chief executive Monika Wheeler said the service opens a new access point to local health care, including urgent care.
"Having launched to Port Macquarie residents in December, the service has already supported hundreds of locals to receive health advice quickly wherever they are and in a way that suits them.
"We understand when there is a health urgency it’s important to get advice quickly no matter the time of day. North Coast Health Connect nurses will assess your symptoms and provide on-the-spot advice.
"Most people don’t want to go to a hospital emergency department if they can avoid it, but it can be hard to get a GP appointment in some areas. Medical issues also often strike after hours when local services are closed.
"North Coast Health Connect offers an alternative, with nurses on-call around the clock, ready to listen to your health concerns and connect you to the right level of care at the right time, including bookings with a local GP or pharmacist," said Ms Wheeler.
Ms Wheeler said the need to see a GP face-to-face for some health concerns will never change and participating local general practices have made appointments available specifically for users of the North Coast Health Connect service.
The service is also supported by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), with local pharmacists signed up to make consultations available.
Amplar Health CEO Dr Andrew Wilson said the company welcomes the opportunity to deliver the North Coast Health Connect service to residents in Kempsey.
"Our digital and clinical expertise will ensure the service delivers increased access, choice and control to the local Kempsey community," Dr Wilson said.
PSA National President Dr Fei Sim said, "With the Australian health system under enormous pressure, there is an important role for pharmacists to play in supporting patients with non-urgent health care needs.
"Services like North Coast Health Connect that connect patients with an appropriate healthcare profession – whether it be a GP, a pharmacist, or another health professional – are vital to ensuring our health system efficiently utilises all resources."