Homecare Medical announced as successful national telehealth partner

18 June 2015

Reaching the community in new ways with comprehensive health and wellness advice, support and information.

Homecare Medical – a leading New Zealand tele-triage organisation – has been announced as the Ministry of Health’s partner to develop and deliver a new, enhanced, integrated, national telehealth service for New Zealand. The national telehealth service will see clinical and non-clinical staff provide phone and online advice, support, assessment of symptoms, triage, treatment advice, and preventative and educational aspects for a range of health, wellbeing and counselling services. Initial services available will be a health advice and triage service, quit smoking services, poisons advice, alcohol and drug advice, immunisation and vaccination advice, depression advice and services, and gambling advice and services.

Homecare Medical Board Chair Dr Martin Seers said today “People expect to get help and advice through a variety of channels, they expect to be able to talk to a ‘real’ person and they expect a joined up system that ‘knows’ them.”

Dr Seers explained “We will work to deliver a service that can be accessed through multiple channels 24 x 7 – phone, websites, email, txt message, chat, and in the future, video calling and mobile applications. This will be a service where every door is the right door – where users’ needs are met directly, or by linking them to the appropriate service - their GP, nurse,   pharmacist, a midwife, paramedics, a counsellor or therapist.”

The service aims to provide accessible, people-centred, flexible and adaptable quality health and counselling services, where the individual who takes the call is responsible for ensuring the caller gets the help or advice they need. Key to this is that the service is integrated with local and regional services and that users get a consistent service no matter where or how they make contact, and where each caller should only have to tell their story once.

The benefits will be better care outcomes for New Zealanders, a reduction in acute and unplanned care - reducing emergency department admissions and pressure on ambulance services - improved health and wellness support for users, improved health literacy, more care delivered close to home, more self-management, and getting the right advice from well trained staff.

“While the current health and wellness phone advice lines work well and we’re starting from a strong base, there is an opportunity for them to be more connected and to significantly enhance the services currently offered. We will integrate with them and collaborate with other service providers over time. We are thrilled to have this once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally change the health services and agencies approach to health and wellness in New Zealand to meet growing demand, consumer expectations and the need for sustainable healthcare.”

From 1 November 2015 the following services will make up the 24 x 7, free national telehealth service:-

  • Health triage and advice
    • Homecare Medical will deliver the Healthline service, with experienced registered nurses providing high quality health advice.
  • Poisons advice
    • The National Poisons Centre will continue to provide a service to clinicians and the public; Homecare Medical will integrate and partner with the Poisons Centre to give the national telehealth service triage nurses access to elements of their extensive database.
    • The University of Otago have been involved in designing our approach.
  • Quit smoking services
    • Using suitably qualified and experienced staff, Homecare Medical will be responsible for delivering virtual smoking cessation support. We are delighted that throughout the procurement process we have built a constructive relationship with the Quit Group Trust who have agreed to support us during the transition period to 1 November.
  • Alcohol and drug advice
    • Homecare Medical, using highly experienced staff will deliver the Alcohol Drug Helpline services. We will continue to work very closely with Alcohol Drug Association New Zealand (ADANZ) who currently deliver this service.
  • Immunisation and vaccination advice
    • The Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) team will train Homecare Medical nurses to provide advice to the public; IMAC will continue to provide clinical advice to GPs and hospital staff and support our nurses when required.
  • Depression advice and services
    • This will be provided by a well-resourced team with a thorough and deep understanding of mental health and depression.
  • Gambling advice and services
    • We will have leading New Zealand mental health and addiction specialists providing this service.

No phone numbers or contact details that users access will change at this stage. 

The current services manage around 2 million calls per year.

In addition, Homecare Medical is working with Plunket to jointly manage calls to PlunketLine that are currently referred to Healthline, and with St John on extending the advice for non-urgent, not life threatening 111 calls for ambulance currently provided in Auckland by Homecare Medical nurses.

Dr Seers explained “Our commitment has always been to innovate, create and deliver services that are focussed on giving all New Zealanders the best possible chance to live well. In developing our telehealth vision and designing the national telehealth service we worked closely with current service providers, with consumer organisations, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, counsellors and others to inform our proposal and our idea of the best ‘design’ for a national telehealth service. We kept focussed on developing better, easier ways of getting health and wellness support for the mum with an asthmatic child, for the middle aged overweight man who is depressed and struggling to monitor his diabetes, for the gen x smoker who needs help quitting. We named them and we built our models with them at the centre.”

“For them, the benefits of a new national telehealth service will be a pathway to the right information, care or service they need, whenever and wherever they need it.  And for their general practice team, the national telehealth service means additional, integrated support for their patients and better continuity of care. For DHBs it will mean fewer emergency department admissions.”

“This isn’t an exercise driven by costs – this is an initiative focussed on reaching the community in new ways with comprehensive health and wellness advice, support and information.”

Homecare Medical (formerly HML) is a New Zealand-owned healthcare organisation currently providing 24 x 7 telehealth services, including nurse-based teleconsults, care coordination, telephone-based screening and in and out of hours general practice support.

For further information please contact:

Robyn Bern
Homecare Medical
+64 (0)21 364484

Homecare Medicalis a partnership between Pegasus Health and ProCare, two of New Zealand's largest primary health networks.

Homecare Medical is a New Zealand organisation providing tele-triage services to around 600 practices throughout New Zealand, covering about 2.2 million people. We have a large nursing workforce, with some non-clinical call takers as well – all our people are committed to delivering quality care and important information to those who call. We are Auckland-based, but national in our reach.

ProCare is New Zealand’s largest Primary Health Organisation (PHO) and we have more than 800,000 patients (over 55%) enrolled throughout the greater Auckland region, including the largest Māori and Pacific populations in NZ. We support more than 180 practices through a range of clinical products and programmes for their patients and practice business services.

Pegasus Health is a charitable company that supports 109 practices and 75% (357,000) of the enrolled patients within Canterbury. The Pegasus community includes 337 member GPs, 471 practice nurses and nearly 400 support staff, as well as other community providers.

Both ProCare and Pegasus are clinically led, with strong, clinical, governance boards, and robust quality and professional management structures. For all three organisations, keeping people of Aotearoa New Zealand well drives our passion for delivering outstanding, clinically-led services to our clients.

The technology partners who will work with Homecare Medical to develop the enhanced integrated national telehealth service are :-

  • Spark Digital will provide the technology platform – the network and connectivity.
  • Valentia Technologies will provide the health software that will manage people’s records.
  • Advanced Health & Care will provide the patient-centred clinical decision tool (Odyssey) that the people taking the calls will use to help assist them to evaluate needs and symptoms.
  • Interactive Intelligence will supply their Customer Interactive Centre (CIC) tool as the phone/web/social media/ call centre management part of the NTS.
  • Accenture will provide project and change management expertise.