1492058718676 - Doctors go online for cut-off communities

Doctors go online for cut-off communities

The roll-out of a new online doctor service has been spread wider as health authorities prepare to deal with people cut off in Cyclone Cook and unable to reach a clinic.

Waikato District Health Board has made its SmartHealth online doctor service available to anyone to use in an emergency immediately, without having to register.

It means they can see a doctor for free from wherever they are. Access the SmartHealth SOS service here. 

People can sign up to SmartHealth SOS anytime from until 11pm on Monday 17 April with access valid for two weeks. Waikato DHB Chief Executive Dr Nigel Murray, said the DHB had started working on the SOS system following the Kaikoura earthquake.

“We realised that in a crisis like an earthquake or a severe weather event many people could get cut off and unable to travel to a doctor – either their local GP or an Accident and Medical Clinic. We wanted to make sure that these people had access to a doctor who could give them the appropriate clinical advice or just offer reassurance. But if they need urgent medical care they should still dial 111. “This will be really helpful for people in the Waikato and in particular Thames/Coromandel where a state of emergency has been declared and people are either being evacuated or advised by civil defence not to travel during the cyclone. If people are stuck at home or in their car and need medical advice they can call, video or text chat with a doctor from their smartphone 24/7 over the long weekend.” SmartHealth is a free service that you can access through the HealthTap app on your smart phone or tablet device or from your desktop computer. It works on broadband or the cellphone network. H

The service offers doctor-approved health information on conditions and treatments, the ability to ask healthcare professionals a question anytime of the day or night and access to an out of hours doctor by video, voice or text chat 6pm – 11pm Monday to Friday, and 8am – 8pm on weekends and public holidays.

During the Easter period the out of hours doctors will be on duty 24/7 from 1pm today till 11pm on Easter Monday. At the end of the two weeks people can then register for the service online with their photo ID at www.smarthealth.org.nz to get permanent access.  

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