By MICHAEL FOREMAN
Taranaki-based internet medical company Dr Global and agricultural website fencepost.com have announced they will be collaborating to provide a range of online health services for farmers.
Dr Global founder Tom Mulholland said the collaboration would go much further than a link on fencepost to the Dr Global site.
"We will be providing content that is pertinent to farmers as well as an interactive questionnaire that is specific to them. For example there are certain diseases that farmers are more likely to get and there are issues around living and working so far away from healthcare."
Mr Mulholland said Dr Global had started out as an online general practitioner service but it had since developed into a secure online communications service between patients and their doctors. The company has offices in New Zealand, Australia and the United States and is about to launch its services in the United Kingdom.
While "thousands" of patients were using Dr Global directly around 40 to 50 doctors had registered with the service.
When nominated by the patient, such doctors could access a patient's comprehensive on-line personal medical file including their medical, family and medication history, allergies and physical information.
Dr Mulholland believed this would help relieve overworked rural GPs as they would not have to go over old ground with the patient.
Rural GPs would also be able to provide secure on-line consultations for things like repeat prescriptions or use Doctor Global to seek a second opinion from another doctor or refer a patient to a specialist.
Fencepost chief operating officer Alison Andrew said the agricultural site received a steady stream of between 4000 to 5000 visitors a day.
Many users lived in isolated communities and visited their GP only when they absolutely had to.
"This service will allow them to keep in closer contact with their doctor - and hopefully prevent illness in the first place," she said.
Ms Andrew said Fencepost planned to announce similar collaborations with specialists in other fields.
"We are constantly looking to add relationships that make sense to a rural audience."
By MICHAEL FOREMAN