We hope you, or your child, do not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional these holidays but if you do, don’t put it off!
Research shows that more than half of Australians postponed treatment because they couldn’t find an appointment time to suit them. The Healthcare Access Study also shows that when they can’t find a convenient appointment, almost two-thirds experienced increased pain and almost half saw their condition get worse.
“Healthcare ranks as the most commonly searched subject on the internet, with nearly nine out of 10 Australians searching online for health information, says Klaus Bartosch, Executive Chairman of 1stavailable.com.au
“But locating a healthcare professional and booking with a preferred provider requires phoning the practice during business hours to confirm their available appointments.
“The holiday season is a particularly busy time of year for both healthcare practitioners and patients. Locating an available appointment can be difficult, especially as many practices close over the break and during public holidays.
“This makes accessing healthcare services unnecessarily difficult, particularly when we are used to and expect 24/7 access to services online,” said Mr Bartosch.
“Additionally, if travelling interstate, available healthcare practitioners must be quickly and easily accessible, especially in emergency situations.
Two new online sites aim to help consumers in need of healthcare.
The Australian Government has launched the National Health Services Directory - www.nhsd.com.au - which provides accurate information about local health services around the country.
"Every parent knows that a trip to the doctor or the emergency department is much more difficult when you're not familiar with the area, or need to find help in the evening," said Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek.
"This new internet directory is easy to use and will save people who need fast access to medical care a lot of time and trouble."
The directory, which is also available as an iPhone and Android App, contains 14,000 records and Ms Plibersek says it has been checked for accuracy. Additional records will be added over the next twelve months.
The other new online site www.1stavailable.com.au goes one step further. Not only does it allow users to find a service but it also enables appointments to be booked online, whether it be a doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, chiropractor or another healthcare professional.
“1stavailable.com.au can help solve the access problem for consumers, whether it's because people are in an area they don't know such as on holidays or if they are just busy and need to find a time quickly to suit their schedule," Mr Bartosch said.
“It can also help healthcare practices by freeing-up front desk staff to attend to patient needs as the phones will no longer ring off the hook – not because people aren’t booking appointments, but because they can do it themselves online.”