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Listed Green Cross Health Launches Online GP Consultation: HouseCall

Green Cross Health, one of New Zealand’s most experienced primary healthcare providers has launched HouseCall, a new, online ‘doctor on demand’ service.

HouseCall is designed to provide convenient, casual, online appointments with real doctors, who will consult any patient located in New Zealand across the internet, via face to face video through the website. The patient follows directions to make an appointment, and the appointment can take place via phone, laptop, tablet or PC – wherever the patient chooses to be.

Four real GPs, very experienced in patient consultations, are currently available online during working hours. All of these GPs work for Green Cross Health’s The Doctors group, a large network of 43 GP practices.

Ash Revell, General Manager of Medical, Green Cross Health, said that while HouseCall was set up primarily to serve all patients needing access to a professional, experienced GP quickly, the service will also complement Green Cross Health’s The Doctors group.

“In the near future, a second platform for this virtual service will be developed for all enrolled patients of The Doctors,’ Revell said. “This will allow our 270,000+ patients to make appointments for virtual consultations with their usual GP and practice across the web, via an online booking platform. We understand our offer to our patients will be amongst the first of a select group of large New Zealand GP networks or practices to provide online consultations for their regular patients.

“It means our enrolled patients will be given the option to book their personal GP or practice online, face to face, and not just a ‘journeyman’ doctor whom they don’t know. In addition, as I’ve said, those experienced GPs are also available to non-enrolled patients. We see this as a real step forward for primary medicine in New Zealand.”

Green Cross Health also has the largest pharmacy network in the country through Unichem and Life Pharmacy brands.

“Green Cross Health has huge experience in primary healthcare in New Zealand through The Doctors practices across the country and through our 358 pharmacies and Access Community Health home based support service,” said Revell. “HouseCall is a natural fit with these services, and it’s a response to the trust New Zealanders place in our expertise.”

Revell said that the company was looking at providing GP consultations on the web before Covid-19.

“The coronavirus catalysed us,” he said. “People want doctors on demand, just as they want accountants, lawyers or plumbers on demand. Lives are busy – we responded with a service that is convenient and flexible, and steeped in on-the-ground, primary care expertise.”

Doctor consultations via the internet are already well-developed in countries like UK and Australia, and in New Zealand Green Cross Health has competition here too.

Currently HouseCall is only available weekdays during working hours. That will soon be extended, said Revell.

“We plan to grow our offering quickly to include after hours and weekends. At those times, a person’s usual GP can be closed, and waiting in line at an urgent medical centre can sometimes take hours,” said Revell.

HouseCall’s online consultations for the general public cost $69 for 15 minutes, and they are expected to assist the work of a person’s regular GP, not replace her or him. Patient information from the online consultation will be shared with a patient’s regular GP if the patient wishes.

“Everybody needs a regular GP who knows them and cares for them. The point is: we aim to make HouseCall available to a patient when their regular GP is not,” said Revell.

At the moment, the service is in an early phase of growth.

“We chose to launch softly and learn from our customers. But HouseCall will grow and grow,” said Revell. “The doctors in our network are excited about it. It’s an extension of what they already do. The pharmacists are also upbeat. And our early market research from patients shows that by far the majority of those who have used the service enjoyed it and would use it again.”

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