We have provided national telehealth services in New Zealand since 2015. This includes the national Healthline service, which has been operating in Aotearoa for more than 20 years.
Combined, the national telehealth services run by Whakarongorau Aotearoa now receive around 7,000 contacts each day and connect with over 950,000 people each year – 1 in 5 people in Aotearoa, help around 25,000 New Zealanders every day, and through national crises such as the COVID pandemic, the Christchurch terror attacks, and natural disasters as well as annual flu seasons.
Whakarongorau Aotearoa’s 24/7 services are run across seven digital channels including voice, webchat, and text.
Everyone in Whakarongorau is here for the same reason – to give everyone in Aotearoa the opportunity for wellness
Our team of 2,500 people are listening to New Zealanders’ healthcare concerns and questions – from Kaitaia to Bluff - every day. Our people are based in contact centres in Auckland, Kaikohe, Ōtara, Rotorua, Heretaunga, Wellington, and Christchurch and from their homes across Aotearoa.
The services we run include those that are funded as part of the National Telehealth Services Contract with Government including Healthline, 1737 – Need to talk?, Peer Support, Quitline, ambulance secondary triage, the Gambling Helpline, the Alcohol Drug Helpline and Poisons advice. We also operate the General Practice and Mental Health After Hours services.
Since 2015, we have launched other services - the national sexual harm helpline Safe to talk, the Puāwaitanga counselling service, the cervical and bowel national screening coordination centres.
More recently we have supported the Government’s COVID response by establishing the COVID Healthline, the COVID Vaccination Healthline, and the COVID Welfare service.
The services we provide are co-funded by the Ministry of Health, ACC, Te Hiringa Hauora Health Promotion Agency, Ministry of Social Development, and the Department of Corrections.
Whakarongorau Aotearoa is owned by primary health organisations, ProCare and Pegasus.
In the year to 30 June 2021, across all our digital telehealth services, we responded to over 2.5 million contacts
As a result of the COVID Healthline services we support, that number is 92% higher than the year before. 97% of those calls were answered within 10 minutes.
The services are supported by clinical teams of registered nurses, mental health nurses, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, counsellors, doctors, paramedics, poisons officers, health advisors, family and sexual harm professionals, and emergency triage nurses and by a clinical governance group and has very clear clinical triage protocols and processes.
More than 2,500 people use the Whakarongorau Aotearoa platform to deliver care and advice to New Zealanders including 1,300 people directly employed and 1,200 team members employed through partner contact centres. Our base Healthline team is made up of over 200 nurses and paramedics and supplemented by 50 health advisors.
In the last year Whakarongorau Aotearoa’s Healthline teams have responded to several significant spikes in demand. We are continuously planning, modelling, and forecasting so we can have the right workforce available at the right times.
Ngakau nui ki te pai ake // our passion for better
Our systems are certified to the ISO 9001 standard, which demonstrates our commitment to quality, productivity, and customer satisfaction.
Whakarongorau Aotearoa is connected to a global network of similar organisations. As we respond to COVID and other public health threats, we can share and receive ideas, best practice approaches and resources internationally daily.
Our government-funded services are governed by the Whakarongorau Aotearoa Board, a Service Improvement Board and overseen by an independent clinical governance committee. Reporting is provided weekly, monthly, and quarterly, with a formal quarterly review of the services provided.
Supporting the COVID response
In addition to our usual Healthline service we have 3 key services supporting the Government’s COVID response.
The COVID Healthline has been a critical service since it was set up in early February 2020. Our frontline kaimahi support people with information and advice about COVID. This includes clinical advice about symptoms and non-clinical advice about testing locations.
The COVID Welfare team supports people impacted by COVID. They do daily health and wellbeing checks for people in self-isolation at home.
The COVID Vaccination Healthline provides vaccination information and helps people who cannot or need help to book their vaccination on the Ministry of Health’s national online booking system.
The Whakarongorau Aotearoa model is that every door is the right door - people will get support for COVID information, vaccination advice, support in self-isolation, or general health support, no matter which number they call.
In the last year the COVID support teams have had to respond to significant spikes in demand. We are continuously planning, modelling, and forecasting so we have the right workforce on at the right times. These spikes are unpredictable and when they happen there may be longer wait times - but at such times, we do everything we can to get as our team mobilised quickly and to have as many calls answered as possible, to support the people of Aotearoa when they need it most.
People, Communities and Partnerships
We achieve what we do through partnerships with other healthcare service providers, community organisations and iwi and Pasifika community groups who can make local connections, support language requirements and meet local community and cultural needs.
We are committed to enabling Māori and Pacific Peoples to deliver health outcomes for their whanau.
We stand shoulder to shoulder (pokohiwi ki pokohiwi) with people who use our services; and with their communities, health and social providers – to connect them with the care they need, when they need it.
Our organisation is based on cultural diversity which helps us to be better clinicians and advisors when we interact with tangata whaiora (service users), who themselves come from diverse backgrounds and situations. We offer world-class training and career pathways to build an inclusive future workforce.
We partner with communities around Aotearoa to provide services, jobs for people in those communities and remote working opportunities.
These partnerships are mainly in the areas of capability (e.g. St John, Plunket, Auckland University, University of Otago); capacity (Orbit Travel, Atlantis Healthcare, House of Travel, CoverMore NZ) or community connections (Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi in Kaikohe Northland, South Seas Healthcare in Ōtara, Te Arawa Lakes Trust in Waiariki/ Rotorua and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga in Hastings).
To ensure we are as connected and as engaged as we can be with the people we help, nearly 40% of our Healthline services workforce identify as Māori or Pasifika.
Across all services, our frontline staff can speak 30 languages; we have more than 500 Te Reo and Pacific language speakers; and we have access to interpreter services for over 300 languages.
Our name and our brand
In early 2021 we changed our name from Homecare Medical to Whakarongorau Aotearoa.
Whakarongorau is a word to describe the many ways to listen - whakarongo (to listen) and ā-rongorau (a modern word for multimedia, the many ways of communication or media). It is derived from the old Māori word whakarongorua (to listen with great intent and purpose). The English version of that name is New Zealand Telehealth Services.
The new name was developed with input from our staff, with design support from contemporary Māori artist Wayne Youle, and with appropriate guidance from our advisors.
Wayne’s design of the icon in our logo was inspired by the whakatauki He reo marohirohi ka taringa rongohia // A brave voice deserves a sympathetic ear.