The service, aptly named ‘Emergency Consult’, is live now. All that is required to access the service is a phone or device with a camera (there are no apps or downloads) and a method of payment such as credit card or PayPal.

Dr Martyn Harvey, clinical director of Emergency Consult, is a 20+ year veteran of emergency medicine and an emergency medicine researcher with over 75 publications to his name. He says, “We started this service because we’ve each seen the EDs in which we work get busier and busier.

And we worry about what that means for our patients. We want to bring our expertise out of the hospital and deliver it when and where it’s most needed.”

Dr Harvey’s colleague, Dr Giles Chanwai agrees, “Our service is like an old fashion house call in that there’s no need to leave home or be exposed to other sick patients. But it also leverages the immediacy and convenience of modern technology. Most of us carry smartphones so designing a service, with the people who will use it at the centre, just made sense”.

With Christmas holidays just around the corner, the Emergency Consult doctors are expecting an increase in calls. “We hope that kiwis on holiday don’t need us. But I think it’s reassuring to know that we’re on the end of the phone if you do need urgent care. We’re online 24/7 so we’re ready to offer consults to anyone at any time” says Dr Harvey.

The Emergency Consult service is manned by NZ-based Emergency Medicine Specialists who – like Doctors Harvey and Chanwai – have many years’ experience caring for acutely unwell and injured patients in local hospital emergency departments.

A consultation could include diagnosis, treatment and advice, but it can also include referrals (which is handy for those who are unsure where to seek help when travelling) and prescriptions, which can be sent electronically to a nearby pharmacy. A consultation costs $89 for adults, or $49 for children 14-years and under, and patients remain enrolled with their regular GP service or primary health organisation (PHO).

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