nib is backing the extension of free clinician access to a telehealth platform for healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has dramatically changed the way Australians access and receive healthcare treatment, led by a significant move from traditional face-to-face appointments to providing consultations using telehealth.
Emerging Healthcare is an Australian business that released their GPConsults telehealth platform for clinicians to use, at no cost, during the pandemic.
Free access to the platform has now been extended for an additional six months with $300,000 from nib.
GP and GPConsults co-founder, Dr Aaron Chambers, said the online platform provides healthcare-specific video-conferencing capability to GPs and medical specialists, allowing them to continue providing care to their patients throughout the crisis.
“Each and every day there are literally hundreds of thousands of healthcare appointments that happen across Australia, many of them critical. And while the pandemic has created a new specific health need, there are regular appointments which support chronic health conditions, that can’t simply be put off,” said Dr Chambers.
“Technology should enhance the doctor-patient relationship, not obstruct it. That’s why we created a simple solution that supports continuity of care by enabling these treatments to continue through virtual consultations via video link. Patients can then access the healthcare they need from their usual doctor in the comfort and convenience of their own home,” he added.
Since March, when governments impose social distancing requirements, more than 135,000 consultations have been initiated on the GPConsults platform by around 5,000 providers.
With nib’s support, the platform will continue to be provided to clinicians free of charge - servicing an estimated further 12,000 providers with an additional 200,000 virtual consultations set to be delivered.
“While telehealth has been welcomed by both clinicians and patients, affordability, compatibility with existing systems and a lack of confidence with technology can be a barrier to use,” said Dr Chambers.
“GPConsults removes these hurdles by providing a simple, easy to use platform for video consultation with no software download, free of charge, enabling them to quickly pivot to telehealth services without needing to change processes or systems,” he said.
According to nib chief medical officer, Dr Mellissa Naidoo, while in the past the use of telehealth has been limited, demand has grown as many people stay home to minimise the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
“Beyond COVID-19, telehealth as a mode of healthcare delivery is expected to only increase due to its ease of use and convenience while maintaining clinical outcomes and supporting wellbeing,” said Dr Naidoo.
“Importantly, GPConsults enables patients to continue to see their trusted GP and healthcare team during COVID-19 and attend to their ongoing health needs. It is a great example of what the future of healthcare looks like and we’re proud to be supporting clinician-led innovation,” she added.
Any Australian registered GP or medical specialist with a provider number can access and use the GPConsults platform for free by simply signing up at GPConsults.com.au. The platform will be rolled out to allied health professionals next month.