As winter hurtles towards us, doctors’ waiting rooms are brimming with patients spreading respiratory viruses and other cold-weather related lurgies.
You may be feeling hale and hearty, but need to pop into the docs to get a script filled, when lo and behold, you get more than just a note for some pills … you also breathed in someone else’s coughed-up or sneezed-out germs.
This gripe will likely resonate with those people who could previously buy codeine over the counter to manage pain symptoms. But since February, they have had to traipse into their GP’s clinic to collect a script for this medication and risk adding to their misery by contracting a cold, or worse, in the waiting room.
To the rescue comes a new app called doctoroo®. It enables you to have a short consultation with a GP of your choice in a digital clinic, at a fraction of the cost of a regular medical appointment.
Many consultations do not involve a physical examination and can easily be conducted using a telehealth platform. Conditions ranging from diabetes to erectile dysfunction can be ‘treated’ by doctors over a video call, such as the doctoroo platform.
Doctoroo Australia Managing Director Christian Nehme told YourLifeChoices that the company expects to launch the app within a few weeks.
“The platform will be accessible from any device across Australia,” Mr Nehme said. “It is free to register and search for doctors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
He explained that the consultation is a two-way video call via the web application. Information exchanged via the app is end-to-end encrypted for patient security and privacy.
The platform also allows you to message your doctor after your call for a follow up, plus documents can be easily downloaded within your account after the consultation.
“Patients pay a four-minute booking fee – which is determined by each doctor – and are then charged for the total number of minutes of the consult.
“Consultations will cost from as little as $20, with the price varying based on the doctor’s experience, qualifications and the fee they’ve determined. Doctoroo earns a booking fee of $10 plus 10 per cent of each consultation, equating to approximately $12 to $20.”
He said that with the average telehealth consultation lasting between seven and eight minutes, the total cost could be as little as $38.
For now, the consultations are privately billed, but Mr Nehme said some health insurance companies and Medicare were looking to subsidise them in the future.
“We’re aiming to have as many doctors as possible so that wait times are as short as possible,” Mr Nehme said.
“To date, prelaunch, we’ve had over 2000 patients pre-register, dozens of medical centres and pharmacies, and we are working on a solution for aged care centres.”
The Australian Journal of Pharmacy (AJP) reports that the platform aligns with the goals of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
Mr Nehme added that unlike other types of telemedicine, doctoroo will encourage patients to consult with their own GP, and that their pharmacy is likely to be a prime location from which the app is used.
“We want it to continue the doctor–patient relationship, so you can actually speak to your own family doctor and continuance of care is still in place,” he said.
Would you gladly skip visiting a doctor’s clinic if you could consult your GP over a video link? Do you believe telemedicine delivers the thorough care and attention you expect from your doctor?