Theresa McLean, co-founder of Rapid Rēhita, explains what the service does (connects people in need of a GP with a GP)
A Rotorua company hoping to address inequities in healthcare says the problems are with the process, not the patients.
It is the communities disproportionately affected by equity issues such as Rotorua’s GP shortage that the service, Rapid
Rēhita, was set up to tackle.
Her team helps register people who don’t have a GP with a local clinic. The development of the service was funded by the Ministry of Health.
Rotorua co-founder Theresa McLean said she and her brother, Thomas, had noticed the shortage of GPs and wanted to create a system for patients to connect to registration clinics.
They aimed to address potential accessibility barriers that unregistered people might face, such as the time, travel, and resources needed to travel to one or more clinics to try to register.
She said that traditional registration also requires a level of literacy.
She said the problem was never with the patient, but with the process.
Of its 14 clinics, the 10 based in Rotorua were able to register and be covered by funding from the Department of Health.
This was done through the Digital Enablement Program which “supports new and innovative ways to access healthcare through digital means”.
A ministry spokesperson said it funded the development of Rapid Rēhita along with a year of financial support. There were 18 other projects.
They said it was looking to fund proof of concept, prototypes, pilots or innovative projects, with a maximum funding level of $150,000 each (plus GST).
“Telehealth is a priority area for the ministry because it can make health care more accessible, sustainable and resilient, improve health and well-being, and address inequities in health access and outcomes. “
McLean said the majority of Rotorua practices came on board.
“It’s equity driven to try to connect patients to practices to make it easier to get a GP.”
She said it worked specifically to help Maori and Pasifika patients who were less likely to be registered with a doctor.
It also helped low-income patients and those in emergency and transitional housing to enroll.
“I’ve been really proud of our Maori patient registrations in Pākehā, I think we’ve done a good job of making sure those numbers are roughly proportional to Rotorua’s population.”
It had successfully recruited just under 1,000 patients from the Rotorua area since August last year.
“It’s exciting to see that it worked.”
She said nothing like the service had been available outside of Rotorua before.
The idea for the service was dreamed up during the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.
McClean had worked in administration and primary care and said people were unable to fully register for practices because they had to go to the clinic and sign a form.
“So we ultimately developed an online form that tried to remove the barriers that exist when it comes to finding a GP and signing up.”
Its website indicated which clinic signed up and whether there were any restrictions such as existing family members being patients.
“When I worked in primary care, I saw a lot of people struggling to fill out forms for a variety of reasons. Sometimes paperwork got in the way of access.”
She said her department helped streamline the process.
This process was a “collaborative effort” between DHB, PHOs and practices.
“I think it really shows that healthcare providers in Rotorua are committed to fairness and thinking about how we can do things differently.”
She said DHB has helped reach these hard-to-reach patients and facilitated access to primary care.
“The training sessions, as always, have been amazing. They are working in such difficult conditions, especially during Covid-19, but they were keen to try something new.”
People could learn about practices and registration through her website, while in hospital, directly from practices or Healthpoint, she said.
“We aim to make sure that we are truly accessible through many different avenues.”
Ngāti Pikiao Health Services practice coordinator Marie Downer said she has been using Rapid Rēhita since November last year and hundreds of people have signed up through the service.
“We found the service very good.”
She said the customer service was excellent and covered all the listing criteria he needed.
This has especially helped clients who don’t have transportation, and caseworkers can help them fill out and sign when having a cellphone or laptop was a barrier, he said. she declared.
Western Heights Health Center administrative manager Angela Morley said that since using the service, she has seen a “significant reduction” in transcription errors, no more incomplete forms and registrations completed before the first appointment. you.
She said it helped sign up people who would otherwise struggle, like during Covid-19, without showing up in person.
He also helped those who didn’t have transportation and those who had new babies and didn’t want to make extra trips. He also helped update registrations for patients who rarely made appointments.
Deputy chief executive of the Department for Health System Improvement and Innovation, Clare Perry, previously told the Rotorua Daily Post that around 94 per cent of New Zealanders are enrolled in a GP practice.
She said she was working with the primary care sector, primary health organizations and district health boards to find innovative solutions and implement changes to improve access for all New Zealanders. , especially those who were not currently registered with a firm.
Lakes DHB Director of Planning and Funding, Dr Hayden McRobbie, said he had used Rapid Rēhita in a pilot maternity program to help hāpu and new māmā enroll in general practice.
“GPs are the cornerstone of health and well-being in our communities and it’s really important that people have one.
“We are aware of the immense pressure on GP services, but this portal is an easier way for people to be able to engage directly with practices accepting registrations.”
Clinics not covered by Ministry of Health funding paid from $40 per month for the service.
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