Thursday, 22 May 2014 20:39

No co-payments at your online doctor, says Doctus

By
Dr Rodney Beckwth, Medical Director at Doctus Dr Rodney Beckwth, Medical Director at Doctus

An Australian-based online medical company, launched last year, is claiming it can provide a way around the government’s proposed co-payment for a visit to the doctor by offering an online doctor’s consultation in the comfort of your home or workplace.

The company – Doctus –  is promoting its so-called ‘revolutionary’ service as offering a convenient, cost effective solution, but only for “simple, low-risk medical conditions.”

Doctus founder and PR graduate from Sydney’s University of Technology – Sarah  Beckwith – and her father and Doctus Medical Director, Dr Rodney Beckwith, say that with routine visits to the doctor now set to cost patients an extra $7 per visit, the cost of healthcare for “routine script renewals and simple medical conditions is set to skyrocket.”

According to Dr Beckwith – a General Practitioner with 12-years experience based on NSW’s Central Coast - Doctus patients benefit from reduced cost of the consultation and will not be affected by any new health taxes. “They can have their medication delivered to their location, if they have mobility issues or are located in a remote area they avoid having to travel, and they do not need to make an appointment to get their medication.”

{loadpositon peter}"Doctus saves our patients money - no co-payment, no gap, no petrol, no parking costs, and no time off work. At the same time, every Doctus consultation saves the healthcare system money because we are not Medicare eligible.

“We believe there should be more efficiency in health care. Computer technology should be able to make the process easier and cheaper for patients, more time efficient for doctors and support patient safety. I call the concept ‘computer-assisted diagnosis’.

“The computer helps to facilitate the doctor's assessment.  The patient completes a questionnaire about their medication and their condition. The questionnaire covers aspects that a regular GP would ask the patient in a face-to-face consultation. The doctor can then ask more questions of the patient if necessary by secure electronic systems if needed.”

Dr Beckwith lists Doctus services for ‘simple medical conditions’ such as contraception, digestion, erectile dysfunction, gout, STDs-chlamydia, prostate, asthma and emphysema, blood pressure, osteoporosis and cholesterol.

He stresses that the service is not suitable for people with complex illnesses like diabetes, chronic pain, or severe psychiatric conditions like bipolar disease.

“Our goal is to make healthcare easily accessible to everyone. Whether you’re stuck in the office or you live in a rural or remote area, Doctus is a cheaper, more convenient way to see your doctor for a select range of medical situations,” says Sarah Beckwith.

“Our patients really appreciate the discretion of the Doctus service.  Embarrassment can prevent people from seeking medical treatment. If you don’t want to speak to someone face-to-face, Doctus provides a confidential and secure online service including discreet packaging for product delivery.”

According to Dr Beckwith the wide range of products available through Doctus have been carefully selected to avoid drugs which could be considered dangerous.

“We do not sell addictive medications like narcotics (morphine) or benzodiazepines (Valium). We do not sell medications that require intensive monitoring like Warfarin.  The medications we do sell require minimal monitoring and have minimal potential for abuse or adverse effects.

“Doctus in no way recommends abandoning the traditional GP visit. We are traditional GPs ourselves and we see patients every day in normal practice settings. If you need a top-up of an uncomplicated medication you can use the Doctus service to tide you over.”

Dr Beckwith says the health system also benefits from Doctus. “If the patient had gone to their doctor just for the prescription Medicare would have paid for the consultation. The time the doctor took to perform that consultation could have been allocated to someone in greater need.”

He also says there are several guidelines for doctors providing services remotely and Doctus complies with all of these. “All Doctus doctors are registered to practice in Australia. It is not possible to provide a prescription in Australia any other way.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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