Business

SA says 'Hello Doctor'

Read time 3min 40sec

SA has a new tele-medicine provider, Hello Doctor, which went live with its consumer services yesterday.

The new service follows the maiden broadcast of a weekly health, medical and lifestyle TV show on SABC 3 by the same name, produced and presented by Dr Michael Mol on Sundays from 5pm to 6pm.

Craig Townsend, a founding shareholder and director of Hello Doctor, says the company's aim is to provide a platform for quality health advice and information.

“Consumers will have direct access to highly-skilled doctors who can give opinions on predetermined illnesses or symptoms and advice on the best means of getting their medical issue resolved.”

The public can either call a doctor on 087 350 1360 or chat to a doctor online at the Hello Doctor Web site.

Dr Steven Holt, the medical director of Hello Doctor, says a tele-consultation is a confidential telephone call with a qualified GP.

“Hello Doctor has been borne out by the need to service the increasing number of medical cases in SA due to increasing population levels and the decrease in doctor-patient ratios.”

He adds that the service is aimed at alleviating the pressure on hospitals and doctors with routine cases, while attending to the convenience requirements of consumers who cannot afford to wait days or hours before they can get to see a doctor.

“There is either a tele-consultation fee for this service, payable online or over the phone by credit card, or consumers will be able to subscribe on a monthly basis where they will have unlimited access to doctors for themselves and their immediate family.”

Referring to Hello Doctor's online service, Holt says consumers can post medical-related questions online and have these answered real-time by qualified GPs.

“This service is not confidential as everyone online can see questions asked and the corresponding answers. It is really for broader educational and information purposes and not intended to replace the role of the doctor.”

Operating times

With due consideration to the public holidays in April, the operating times will be from 5pm to 9pm on Sundays.

“From the beginning of May, the operating times for both tele-consultation and online chats will be from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday and from 5pm to 9pm Sunday nights to coincide with the TV show. From June, the aim is that the call centre will operate from 8am to 10pm seven days a week.”

A content search section on the Hello Doctor Web site is also available where the public can search by medical condition and view various online articles about the subject of their choice.

“We are not in the business of creating content, but rather providing online medical input from doctors that is considered reliable. People will interact with Hello Doctor as their trusted source of medical information and often intervention,” explains Holt.

Online users can search for the nearest doctor or specialist and for the closest pharmacy. Users can send a doctor their own article for comment, rate a doctor, join online support groups and interest groups by medical condition, view health tips and be informed about general health alerts.

All online medical content and Web-based interactions with doctors is free.

Commenting on the Hello Doctor TV Show, Mol says to be in good health is not a default setting.

“It's a goal that needs to be actively pursued - and that's what the Hello Doctor TV series is all about. We'd like to educate, entertain and inspire individuals to live their best life, by being the healthiest they can be.

“So expect to be challenged, confronted and moved to be a better you, as we explore and extrapolate a variety of medical conditions offering accurate, up-to-date and reliable information from dermatologists to dieticians, cardiologists to clinicians and every expert in between. Throughout the show, viewers will also be encouraged to 'find out more' on hellodoctor.com.”

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