Hundreds of drive-through mobile medical clinics are planned by 2020 in an ambitious bid to make healthcare “as accessible as Uber”.
It’s the goal of Auckland University of Technology Māori entrepreneur in residence and founder of The Moko Foundation, Dr Lance O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan said he came up with the idea just two weeks ago. He travelled to China to buy his first clinic, and announced his plans last night at an AUT public lecture.
“I’ll be guaranteeing that our ability to deliver healthcare will be as swift as getting a Happy Meal,” he said.
“This is a game-changer for thousands of Kiwis who need medical support. Not only is this initiative a first for New Zealand, but a first for the world.”
He hopes to have 200 clinics throughout the country by 2020. He expects to launch the first in Rotorua in September, followed by a second clinic in Kaitaia in November.
Westmere general practitioner John Cameron said the results would be interesting.
“One of the big problems we have with healthcare is access … drive-throughs: good idea, let’s try something different, see how it flies. Anything that’s going to shake the tree … yeah good on [O’Sullivan].”
O’Sullivan said the idea was to break down the most common barriers for visiting a medical clinic — which were cost and time.
“Instead of taking two hours out of your day, you could be seen within 20 minutes at your own convenience — and it will be much cheaper.”
Each clinic would have two drive-through windows and people would also have the ability to go into a clinical room if needed or preferred. They would be run by a mixture of nurses and healthcare assistants providing 96 per cent of the care a GP offered, O’Sullivan said.
He has purchased the clinic planned for Rotorua himself but hopes to establish partnerships with community groups throughout the country to help fund the rest.
The focus would be on high health needs in areas where services were unable to meet demand.
Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) executive director Ian Powell praised O’Sullivan’s initiative as there was plenty of need to fill.
“It’s a very noble aspiration and good luck to him. It will, however, require a massive financial and logistical commitment that I’m sure will be very challenging.”
Powell, who last week slammed Health Minister David Clark for failing to address the country’s massive shortage of medical specialists, said it shouldn’t come down to the work of O’Sullivan and others.