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SmartHealth to help ease pressure on Coromandel health services over summer

A new, free online health service provided by Waikato District Health Board is being promoted to help ease the strain on local healthcare services in the Coromandel this holiday season.

Every summer 200,000 holiday makers migrate to the Coromandel Peninsula, it’s a fun time for most but the influx also puts a huge strain on local healthcare services. As part of the Safe Summer Coromandel project, Waikato DHB is promoting the use of its free SmartHealth service to connect people with health information and out of hours online doctors for urgent advice.

Dr Ruth Large, Clinical Director Virtual Healthcare, says “To make sure people get the care they need, when they need it, we need to work smarter and connect people with healthcare services in different ways.”

SmartHealth connects people with health services using the HealthTap app, on their smart phone, tablet device or computer. People can use HealthTap from wherever they are, as long as they have an internet connection.

“At the peak of the summer season the waiting room at Thames Hospital is overflowing. People can face a lengthy wait to see an out of hours doctor, or a night time drive back to Hamilton or Pukekohe for the nearest accident and medical clinic.

We know that a lot of those people don’t need to see a doctor in person. A phone or video consultation with an out of hours doctor can often resolve their situation,” says Dr Large.

During the holiday period a virtual consultation room will also be set up at Thames Hospital, allowing people facing a long wait to talk to an out of hours doctor faster by having an online consultation.

“We work hard to make sure everyone gets the care they need. But the reality is that Thames Hospital emergency department is stretched to its limits over summer. Having a roster of Waikato DHB doctors able to provide remote support using HealthTap will help ease that pressure and get people the help they need, faster.”

Dr Large’s message for holiday makers is to be prepared. “Pack a first aid kit and any medications you need. Make sure you have enough, and remember to get a new prescription before you leave home. Then get out your computer and sign up to SmartHealth. Download HealthTap and you’ve got a doctor in your pocket if the unexpected happens.”

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