We talk to SwiftDoc founder Dr Richard McMahon about how SwiftDoc can provide valuable services to regional Australians, and how a typical day is anything but.
There’s really no such thing as a typical day for me as a GP offering online consultations. Because our services are nationwide, I help urban Australians as well, but it is our rural patients where I really get to add some value. If I am consulting to a patient who lives hours from a town, I really need to work with them to understand the limitations of their geographical location. For example, I can arrange for prescriptions to be delivered to them, or I can offer some practical medical solutions that suit their current situation. Sometimes there’s just no choice but to send them to town for specialist services or further testing, but I can help them maximise the use of their time by arranging appropriate referrals and testing so they can make the most of the trip.
I can also offer the benefits of continuity of care by being available for a consult even if they are on the move – great for transport and FIFO workers.
In conjunction with the rest of the team, we offer regular GP services as well as more specific care such as mental health and counselling, dietitian support, addiction support and sexual health. All of this is offered via online consultation, which really does open up the opportunities for healthcare for Australians living in rural and remote locations. We also can ease the burden on rural GPs in towns where there aren’t enough doctors to go around, simply by being available for appointments when they are fully booked.
The idea of online consultations is a little “out of the box” for some people. Part of the challenge of what we do is reassuring our patients that we can offer that personalised care even though we aren’t in the same room (or sometimes even in the same time zone)! Luckily, once our patients have given online consultations a go, we find that they are pleased with the process and return for further care. Understanding the unique challenges facing our more remote patients is also key to providing appropriate care.
What’s not to love? Rural Australians deserve top quality healthcare every bit as much as their urban counterparts. In any day I can see patients from rural NSW to the Northern Territory, from Tasmania to Cairns, from the mines and gas fields of WA to rural SA. I help my patients with prescriptions, mental health issues, referrals for imaging, specialist appointments and blood tests, provide certificates, deal with Workcover injuries and provide emergency assistance.
Australia’s rural landscape is vast, both in terms of geographic size and diversity, and as such the medical services we offer are diverse too. I love that I can provide a service where the patient can be anywhere (and the doctor can too)!
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