Rural patients tap into online doctor help

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Generic picture of doctor.
Camera IconGeneric picture of doctor. Credit: METHODE, Getty Images.

Residents in the Pilbara have been making the most out of a new medical service that lets them access a doctor any time.

Launched late last year, Instant Consult — an online doctor consulting service — allows people Australia-wide to consult a doctor anywhere, at any time.

Instant Consult co-founder Bianca Brown said the service was popular in the North West with patients from Newman, Paraburdoo, Tom Price, Karratha and Port Hedland. “There are over 2000 patients from the North West currently using the service, and they really only started using us in the last four months,” she said.

“It’s all through word of mouth in those communities. Ever since the communities in the North West have found out about us, it has just spread like wildfire.”

Ms Brown said the service originally started in Queensland last June to help people in regional towns gain access to GP services.

“Travis (co-founder) and I were going to develop a medical centre here in Brisbane and we wanted to give access to patients in rural and remote communities,” she said.

“We had to think outside the box with how we were going to access them in our clinic in Brisbane. We saw there was a need for it and that it wasn’t being catered for.”

A consultation costs $35 to $105 and gives patients access to specialist referrals, prescriptions, medical certificates, pathology and radiology requests as well as general consults.

Ms Brown said the service was popular in remote areas.

“Half of our patients are rural and remote patients. We receive 1500 new sign-ups each month and about 20 per cent of that comes from the North West,” she said.

Ms Brown said Instant Consult had 22 doctors working on a rotational timetable, from 6am to 10pm, Eastern Standard Time every day.

Prescription requests, as well as pathology and radiology referrals, were the main reason for consultations in the Pilbara region.

“The towns may have their own radiology or pathology centre and all the patients need is that referral from the GP to bring to get their bloods or X-rays done,” she said.

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