2017 Quality Symposium  -  Waikato DHB’s SmartHealth

Sector news
31 July 2017

Some of your patients are going to migrate from your books to the health app store to get their primary health care advice, whether you like it or not, according to Hamilton GP Damien Tomic, and Waikato DHB Primary Care.
“We can’t fold our arms and say no to this new use of technology; or be scared of it; or complain that it’s not perfect; or that we want to protect our traditional way of seeing patients.”

Tomic was speaking to the RNZCGP 2017 Quality Symposium about Waikato DHB’s SmartHealth, an eHealth platform licensed from HealthTap. Tomic says SmartHealth is a way to address patient access and GP time-poverty issues. SmartHealth’s usage rates is on a definite upward trend, defying some expectations.

“It’s a complete myth to assume that this technology is not going to be used by certain groups.” says Tomic. “Patients love using it from the comfort of their own home, and they can even rate their consultation.”, which might be a scary idea for GPs until you hear that the average rating was great: 4.75 out of a possible 5. “Our doctors are comfortable with the scoring system”, he says.

Tomic says that when you look at the outcomes of the SmartHealth consultations, they are split evenly between giving advice, asking the patient to see a GP, issuing a prescription, and referral to ED or urgent care.   

One useful angle is that GPs can see what questions their patients are submitting to the databank, so they can understand what the patient is concerned about. 

SOAP notes are created in SmartHealth for the patient, with a copy going to MedTech, with other PMS providers being invited to participate. The SOAP notes can be smart, pinging a patient’s phone with automated reminders and checklists. 

Tomic’s rule of thumb when advising GPs on using SmartHealth safely is simple: don’t prescribe if you can’t make a diagnosis. Turning this around, he says, “If you need to physically see the patient or do a test to aid your diagnosis, then bring the patient in.” Tomic says he currently reviews every consultation made on SmartHealth, to add an extra layer of safety to something that is essentially a new model of working.