How telehealth can help a stretched health workforce

May 2023

Dr Stephen Child is the chief medical officer at Southern Cross Health Society.

OPINION: There’s no denying the coronavirus pandemic created fundamental changes in many facets of our lives – mask wearing every day is now commonplace, we’re making bread from scratch, dog ownership is at an all-time high, we’re actually not going to work when ill, and many office-based workers are now working remotely, including our GPs.

Calling patients to discuss health conditions over the phone was not a new concept for doctors in 2020, but the directive by the Royal College of General Practitioners that GPs were to move to video or phone consultations at the height of the pandemic required the primary health workforce to mobilise telehealth services over a single weekend.

Several telehealth providers launched services direct to New Zealanders around that time, with several businesses now well-established in the marketplace including Tend, Bettr, PracticePlus and CareHQ.

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