Increased numbers access NZ telehealth service


Wednesday, 02 November, 2016

Increased numbers access NZ telehealth service

The NZ national telehealth service has assisted 425,000 citizens since its launch one year ago, according to Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

In November 2015, the telehealth service brought together seven helplines — including Healthline, Quitline, Gambling Helpline, Alcohol Drug Helpline, the Depression Helpline, the National Depression Initiative services, and poisons and immunisation advice — for the public.

Registered nurses, mental health and addiction specialists and poisons specialists are available to provide around-the-clock advice, support, assessment of symptoms, triage and treatment advice.

“The integration of telehealth services on one platform delivered by one provider means that Kiwis who make contact — no matter what phone line or channel they use — receive the appropriate help they need,” Coleman said during a visit to the Auckland telehealth service.

“Since the telehealth service was launched a year ago, there have been more than 550,000 contacts to the service. That’s more than one contact every minute, with 81% of calls answered within 20 seconds,” said Coleman.

“Overall, the number of contacts to the telehealth service has increased from 36,800 in November 2015 to 42,000 in September 2016 — up 16%.”

The telehealth team of 250 staff are successfully working collaboratively across the sector through partnerships with DHBs, primary care and NGOs.

The service is run by Homecare Medical in partnership with the Ministry of Health, with support from the ACC and the Health Promotion Agency.

More services and channels will be added over the coming months, including new mental health services as part of the $12 million boost in the 2016 Budget to increase support for people at an earlier stage.

Data for September 2016 shows that more New Zealanders are receiving telehealth assistance compared to November 2015:

  • Healthline — contacts increased from 25,970 to 29,700
  • Depression Helpline — contacts increased from 1812 to 2299
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline — contacts increased from 969 to 1351
  • Quitline — contacts increased from 4008 to 5372

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Izvorinka Jankovic

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