Townsville and surrounding areas will be the first to trial Australia’s first online hospital and telemedicine platform, Docto.com.au, which is set to revolutionise regional and remote healthcare services throughout North and West Queensland.
Supported by the Queensland Government’s Advance Fund, the innovative telehealth platform will provide patients with accelerated access to a large network of specialists via video consultation.
“Docto is a real boost to healthcare services in the North Queensland region,” explains Townsville based project manager, Tanya Scardamaglia.
“For those regional and remote areas where there is a shortage of GP’s and healthcare workers, we can provide assistance to patients and work alongside the medical professionals to further expand access to healthcare in these areas.”
Tanya says the platform encourages collaboration with local services and offers specialist doctors the opportunity to take telehealth referrals through their site so that patients may be matched to the closest service in their community.
“Docto’s professional network ensures all patients are matched to the best possible specialist for their care,” she continues.
“This happens in a matter of days or weeks instead of months.”
Where possible, patients are encouraged to present with a referral from their regular GP to ensure follow-up care. However, Tanya says Docto has a virtual Emergency Department available that is staffed by Emergency medical specialists for when patients cannot access their regular GP services.
“We are aiming to integrate with existing services to support the regional and remote health care workforce,” she continues.
“It is important to recognise that this platform it not intended to replace regular GP consultations, instead it is an extension of the healthcare system and a service that can fill a gap particularly in regional and remote communities.
“Docto is also subsidised by Medicare and the average cost for a patient to see a specialist via our telehealth service is far less than travel or lost work time.”
Tanya says patients aren’t the only ones who will benefit from Docto, with GP’s and healthcare workers also set to benefit from the assistance of the service.
“We are here to assist the medical professionals; that might mean taking over after-hours so they can switch off for the evening or simply fostering a collaborative environment that supports them with difficult cases.”
“Ultimately, GPs will benefit from free specialist advice and support, and patients get affordable access to great specialist care – it’s a win-win solution.”
Tanya says rural and remote GPs and healthcare workers are further encouraged to reach out to the service for advice and support and to book joint consultations with their patients.
By Georgie Desailly.