Delivery of primary health care using technology is right here, right now, for primary practice, yet Andrew Slater, Homecare Medical’s CEO, says not everyone working in a practice is capable, or has the desire to deliver care using it. He says the challenge is to include it in teaching and training curriculums, so that healthcare workers are familiar with the technology and ready for it.
Delegates at the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Quality Symposium 2017 in Dunedin heard how Homecare Medical is trialling virtual consultations in practices across Auckland and Christchurch, using a free platform. Slater says, “We’re looking at where consumers place value, whether it’s paying on line, or booking appointments for example: what do they want from their services, and how can we understand different preferences within the population. We’ll then look for solutions that we can bring to primary care to help virtualise services.”
Slater points out that we have to take account of ‘digital deprivation’: some people can’t afford to use digital services, or at least not consistently.
Homecare Medical is pretty certain that virtual care improves patient access. Slater says, “We are quantifying this now at a system level. You only have to walk around our call centre, and you can hear the value that is being added by the 70 health care workers.”