Concerns over the ability of people to get a same-day doctor's appointment has led to a Napier pharmacy trialling a virtual doctor service letting people speak to a doctor remotely.
Pharmacist Samantha Pie said the service, carried out with Doctor2Go virtual technology at the Westshore Pharmacy, would be expanded to four other locations if it was successful.
The trial was proving popular, particularly with younger people.
"It depends on which medical centres patients go to, obviously some don't have a problem with waiting to be seen, whereas some of the other patients have difficulty being able to get an appointment for the same day.
"So, for these people it means they can access a doctor, which is important for them."
Auckland-based medical company Doctor2Go, which has medical consultants based across New Zealand, said it teamed up with Westshore Pharmacy to address some of the major concerns about ease of access to primary care.
"Having already partnered with Doctor2Go to deliver medication to its corporate customers, the two companies teamed up to launch a new service to help address this need," co-founder Michael Haskell said.
Doctor2Go was not designed to compete with the primary care provider and had been designed to supplement primary care when the immediate needs of the patient were not being met.
The patient could also choose to have their information sent to their primary GP after the consultation.
"If a customer presents symptoms that can not be addressed by the pharmacist, the patient is offered a digital health consultation. The customer then pays for the
consultation at the pharmacy.
"The pharmacist escorts the customer to a consultation room on-site, logs into a pharmacy version of Doctor2Go's online platform on a tablet, then hands the internet-connected tablet to the customer.
"The patient enters their name, date of birth and conditions into the app; once their information is entered they are provided with access to the video conferencing functionality which connects them directly to the Doctor2Go medical team."
If the medical team deems it necessary during the consultation, a script is sent to the pharmacy.
"We only provide consultations when we feel it is safe to do so for example; we do not provide consultations to children under 13 and if we assess that a physical examination is required we refer the patient back to either their own GP or to a local A&E clinic."