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Telehealth Is Here To Stay As CareHQ Hits Major Milestones

At the height of the pandemic, ProCare and Southern Cross Health Society launched CareHQ - a telehealth service to support the healthcare sector and help New Zealanders access the care that they need, when they need it. Three years on, and more than 50,000 consultations later, it’s clear this way of accessing medical support and advice is here to stay.

“Our partnership with ProCare and Southern Cross is delivering real benefits to Southern Cross members, GP clinics and our communities. We are delighted we’ve now had more than 50,000 consultations with New Zealanders and visitors to Aotearoa,” said Dr Reza Jarral, CareHQ Clinical Director.

“CareHQ enables individuals and families to get on top of issues by working respectfully alongside their general practice team, which is particularly useful when seeing their usual GP isn’t possible, or nearby clinics aren’t enrolling. We regularly deliver more than 120 consults daily and even with that rapid growth in volume, our customer satisfaction scores remain exceptionally high.

Jarral said the team has expanded to over 30 expert GPs and four Practice Nurses who work together to meet increased demand from users, employers, care providers, and general practices across the motu. CareHQ is now available for after-hours, international visitors and for injury management.

Southern Cross Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Regan Savage said that the injury management service was proving popular with Southern Cross corporate groups to help their people with a planned return to work.

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“If somebody is injured, an employer may need them to follow a return-to-work plan that requires assessment by a GP. Returning to work can be delayed if you are unable to access your regular GP, with CareHQ offering same or next day appointments, that process can be sped up,” he said.

What’s next?

Jarral has seen first-hand how telemedicine can work in conjunction with face-to-face consultations and make real inroads into the inequities driving healthcare access. Any doubts that patients and practitioners had about the ability to deliver high quality health support over the phone or via video call are fading, as clinicians can see how early telehealth interventions can fast track patient care and improve outcomes.

“Increasingly people are comfortable with online consultations – they can be more convenient and save long waits at urgent care clinics. Many users also feel more relaxed and empowered by having a consult in their own homes, with whānau, friends and pets on hand to support them.”

“We’ve been bowled over by the feedback that we’ve received from patients. They're incredibly positive about the ease of access, our expert GPs’ empathy, and their overall experience, which is exactly what all health professionals want to hear.”

Bindi Norwell, ProCare CEO and Chair of CareHQ, said the CareHQ team has also received encouraging feedback from GPs who appreciate the ability for CareHQ to provide cover for their practices if they are unavailable or experience increased demand for services. CareHQ provides continuity of care for their patients and is a welcomed relief during busy times.

GPs who work for the service have conveyed they appreciate the opportunity to work in a different way.

“By offering a choice of shift times, GPs can choose to balance their ‘in practice’ hours with telehealth consults. With telemedicine predicted to continue its steady growth, CareHQ is well positioned to support any New Zealander needing healthcare advice.”

CareHQ is also now offering a service for short-term visitors to New Zealand who are unlikely to be enrolled at a GP practice. This includes non-New Zealand residents, international visitors, and international students.

Visit carehq.co.nz for more information.

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