North Coast Health Connect – a new front door to local healthcare
Residents living in Port Macquarie area postcodes will be the first to benefit from a free new service that aims to improve access to local healthcare.
Launching today and delivered by Amplar Health, North Coast Health Connect, offers a free 1800 phone number or live web chat for residents to speak with a registered nurse any time of the day or night, including public holidays.
Funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN program and delivered by experienced Amplar registered nurses, the new service ensures urgent health concerns can be assessed quickly and confidentially by a trusted health professional. If needed, residents can be connected with a local service or a virtual care appointment.
Amplar Health Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Wilson, said the Amplar team is thrilled to be selected to deliver the North Coast Health Connect service, as improving primary care access is a key element to ensuring the sustainability of healthcare in Australia.
“We look forward to providing our digital and clinical expertise to deliver a service for Healthy North Coast that increases access, choice and control for the local community,” Dr Wilson said.
Healthy North Coast’s Acting Chief Executive Monika Wheeler said the service opens a new front door to local health care, including urgent care, for those unsure about the next step, helping to ease pressure on hospital resources.
‘We understand when there is a health urgency it’s important to get advice quickly no matter the time of day. North Coast Health Connect nurses will assess your symptoms and provide on-the-spot advice,’ said Ms Wheeler.
‘Most people don’t want to go to a hospital emergency department if they can avoid it, but it can be hard to get a GP appointment in some areas. Medical issues also often strike after hours when local services are closed.
‘North Coast Health Connect offers an alternative, with nurses on-call around the clock, ready to listen to your health concerns and connect you to the right level of care at the right time, including bookings with a local GP or pharmacist,’ said Ms Wheeler.
Ms Wheeler said the need to see a GP face-to-face for some health concerns will never change and North Coast Health Connect is supported by participating local general practices who have made appointments available specifically for users of the North Coast Health Connect service. Local pharmacists have also signed up to make consultations available.
Mid North Coast Local Health District Chief Executive Stewart Dowrick said he fully supported this new and innovative model and will be promoting North Coast Health Connect through the Mid North Coast hospital system.
‘It’s up to all of us to make the best possible use of our hospital resources and keep our emergency departments for emergencies,’ said Mr Dowrick.
‘For those who may have been struggling to access the health system, North Coast Health Connect is a direct line to a qualified and trusted health professional, rather than facing a long wait in a busy ED, ‘ Mr Dowrick said.
PSA National President Dr Fei Sim applauded Healthy North Coast for their innovation in a health system under increasing stress. ‘The Australian health system is under enormous pressure, and there is an important role for pharmacists to play in supporting patients with non-urgent health care needs, Dr Sim said.
‘Services like North Coast Health Connect that connect patients with an appropriate healthcare profession – whether it be a GP, a pharmacist, or another health professional – are vital to ensuring our health system efficiently utilises all resources,’ said Dr Sim.
Ms Wheeler said North Coast Health Connect delivers on what the North Coast community asked for – being able to speak to a health expert for free over a convenient and confidential 24/7 channel with connections to the next level of local health care.
‘We are excited to see Port Macquarie residents be the first to get on board. We encourage you to speak with a North Coast Health Connect nurse on 1800 198 888 or live chat at northcoasthealthconnect.org.au next time you have an urgent health issue,’ said Ms Wheeler.
Healthy North Coast is planning to make North Coast Health Connect available to all North Coast residents in early 2023.
North Coast Health Connect will also be evaluated by world-leading medical research centre, The George Institute for Global Health, over the next five years.
To find out more about North Coast Health Connect, visit northcoasthealthconnect.org.au
North Coast Health Connect is funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN Program and delivered by Amplar Health (a business of Medibank Health Solutions Pty Ltd ABN 99 078 934 791), supported by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. The service will be evaluated by The George Institute.