Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced that Homecare Medical is the preferred provider for the new national telehealth service.
New Zealand currently has multiple individual telehealth services that handle around two million calls a year. Some of these services are not available 24/7.
“In 2011 we committed to roll out a comprehensive telehealth advice service with access to nurses, GPs and pharmacists,” says Dr Coleman.
“The free national telehealth service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will provide the public with better access to high quality consistent health advice across the country.
“The public can still contact services using current phone numbers. Behind the scenes, the new national service will be more seamless and ensure people access the right advice, at the right time, no matter where they live.
“The national telehealth service will also help encourage patients to use community based services and to self-care. This will help reduce the pressure on after-hours primary care and hospital emergency departments.”
Final contract negotiations are underway with Homecare Medical which is a partnership between Pegasus Health and ProCare Health. The service will go live on 1 November 2015. It will be delivered within current Ministry of Health funding.
It will integrate Healthline, Poisonline, Quitline, Gambing Helpline, Alcohol and Drug Helpline, the National Depression Initiative, and immunisation advice for the public. 111 calls and PlunketLine will not be affected.
The Ministry of Health will work closely with providers to ensure a smooth transition.