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CareHQ expands range of telehealth services to help more people access the healthcare they need

Monday , 13 March 2023 by Sherryl Arneil

CareHQ, the online GP service and joint venture between ProCare and Southern Cross, has expanded its platform to bring the ease and convenience of telehealth consultations to even more people across New Zealand.

The virtual GP service has already been in operation for two years, providing essential consults for New Zealanders.

Until now, CareHQ's service consisted of online consultations for patients between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week, but three new clinic types will expand on that primary care offering.

The first of these is CareHQ’s new after-hours service, with appointments available between 7pm and 9pm, offering people further opportunities to speak to a GP about their health concerns when they need to.

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.

Lastly, CareHQ is providing an injury management service with assessments available for people who have been injured in the workplace and have a return-to-work plan that needs to be considered by a GP. Employers have the option of fully funding the patient’s assessment via a unique coupon code.

CareHQ Clinical Director Dr Reza Jarral said the expansion of available clinics shows how the flexibility of telehealth services can support the wider sector.

“Many of the general practice clinics CareHQ supports have faced unsustainably high demand, due to both the pressure of the pandemic and an acute shortage of GPs,” he said.

“Offering access to trusted care when people aren’t able to get into their local doctor’s clinic has provided both practices and whānau with a much needed lifeline. CareHQ’s new services will further expand our support.”

Jarral adds that the after-hours online GP consults can help save long waits at busy after-hours clinics, while international visitors will no doubt appreciate the chance to speak to a local GP via a telehealth consult should they need to.

“During Cyclone Gabrielle, we had two travellers whose luggage had been held up, and needed a short-term supply of medication to bridge them through. They were grateful to be able to access their important medication via a CareHQ appointment,” he said.

Southern Cross Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and Chair of CareHQ Board Kerry Boielle said that the new injury management service can also help people return to work faster.

“If somebody is injured, an employer may need them to follow a return-to-work plan that needs to be assessed by a GP. Obviously, if a regular GP appointment is days or even a week away, this delays the return to work, so a CareHQ appointment may be able to speed that process up,” she said.

ProCare Chief Executive Bindi Norwell said: “The past couple of years have shown New Zealanders that telehealth services can be quick and easy, and we know these new CareHQ services will offer that same convenience for more people.”

International visitor consults cost $99.95 and this may be able to be claimed back on travel insurance.

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