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More than 1.3 million GP appointments booked online

Monday, 28 May 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


More than 1.3 million GP appointments have been booked online via a patient portal in New Zealand.


More than 400,000 repeat prescriptions have also been ordered electronically, saving patients a phone call or visit to their GP.


Figures gathered by eHealthNews from New Zealand’s three main patient portal providers reveal that patients are increasingly using digital services to communicate with their GP practice.


Around 550,000 of New Zealand’s 4.5 million patients (12 per cent) are registered with a patient portal and 545 practices offer one. A patient portal is a secure online site where patients can access their health information and interact with their GP.


ConnectMed provides a patient portal to 125 practices and says more than one million patient appointments have been booked electronically via the service.


ConnectMed co-founder Ryan Thatcher says use of the booking function grew from 130,000 in 2015 to 450,000 appointments booked last year and figures are expected to jump again in 2018.


Ryan says most clinics have turned on the ability for patients to order repeat prescriptions – nearly 100,000 have been ordered online – and about half are now offering access to lab results.


The company has also recently added video consultation functionality via the patient portal and has a few practices using it.


ManageMyHealth patient portal, provided by Medtech, has more than 330,000 registered users and more than 120,000 users of its mobile app.


The company says patient numbers are always on the rise and grew by 70 per cent last year.


Over the past two years, more than 200,000 appointments have been booked and 200,000 repeat prescriptions have been ordered online. Usage is increasing and around 1,000 appointments are now booked every day using MMH.


Medtech also reports that 99 per cent of practices offer patients access to their laboratory results online via the portal and more than 70 per cent offer access to open notes, where the patient can read the doctor’s notes after an appointment.


Users of the MMH portal are predominantly female (61 per cent) and the highest proportion are aged over 55.


Figures provided by MyPractice, which runs the Health365 patient portal, show that more than 120,000 appointments have been booked and nearly 70,000 repeat prescriptions requested online via the service.


Patients are also regularly using the portal to view their information. Appointment views number more than 1 million, medications have been viewed 270,000 times and lab test results 700,000 times.


More than 40,000 online conversations or consultations have also been carried out using the Health365 portal, the company reports.


Pakuranga Medical manager Dale Shepherd says the practice started using a ConnectMed patient portal in 2013.


The practice was struggling with the huge volume of phone calls coming in every day and initially only offered appointment booking online. This reduced the pressure from around 1000 calls a day to between 200–600 daily, despite an increase in patient numbers.


The portal has also been developed to allow patients to order repeat prescriptions, view lab results and see some basic health status information.


Shepherd believes the ability for patients to see their long-term medications and order them online “really encourages patients to take more responsibility for their own care”.


Uptake in the practice is high, with 58 per cent of the 13,200 patients registered to use it.


“We are really proud of it and we promote it a lot,” she says. “And the patients love it.”


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