Woolworths makes GP visits easier with launch of telehealth service

Mar 22, 2023
With Australia's GP shortage, Woolworth Group's HealthyLife division has introduced a telehealth consultation service offering easy access to healthcare. Source: Getty Images.

As Australia grapples with a shortage of GPs, Woolworth Group’s HealthyLife division has introduced a telehealth consultation service that offers easy access to healthcare.

The new offering from HealthyLife is expected to provide a convenient and virtual means of connecting with healthcare professionals such as GPs, dietitians, nutritionists, and in-house naturopaths.

In response to concerns regarding the increasing gap fee payments and the scarcity of doctors, HealthyLife’s GP consultations aim to provide patients with same-day appointments for a wide range of services, including health consultations, medical certificates, e-scripts, and referrals, all for a one-time fee starting at $25.

General Manager of Health & Nutrition, Sarah Gray said “there are many reasons why patients may need to speak with a real GP via phone or video call.”

“For example when they are not physically able to leave the house, for children’s health advice, or simply because they cannot access their regular doctor,” Gray explained.

“In addition to providing fast access to trusted health advice, telehealth patients can request an e-script from the GP, have the script fulfilled and delivered to their door through our partner SuperPharmacy, via the HealthyLife platform – all from the comfort of their own home.

“We also know that there’s a growing demand for holistic healthcare advice for conditions including weight management, gut health conditions, and chronic pain. That’s why we are providing virtual and cost-effective consultations with dietitians and nutritionists whose services are not always as accessible, particularly for those living in rural areas or facing budget pressures.”

For certain individuals, seeking assistance from a holistic health professional seems unattainable, as only 6 per cent of Australian adults sought advice from a naturopath within a 12-month timeframe.

Founder and Director of The Gut Health Dietitian, Nicole Dynan said “we are pleased to partner with HealthyLife to provide virtual access to a team of accredited dietitians and  nutritionists we hope we’ll be able to bridge the gap for those who have struggled to access these specialised services in the past.”

“Our practitioners can provide practical advice and guidance on health conditions like gut issues, food intolerances, medical conditions, weight management, and general healthy eating, helping all Australians live a healthy life,” Dynan said.

As part of the service, a standard fee of $115 will apply for a 30-minute consultation with a dietitian or nutritionist, whereas a 15-minute consultation with a GP will cost $45. On the other hand, a 15-minute virtual consultation with a naturopath is offered free of charge.

The service will no doubt be welcomed after reports indicate a growing shortage of GPs in Australia.

A recent report from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) projected a shortage of 10,600 GPs by 2031.

The general practice workforce: why the neglect must end report found that Australia the supply of GPs is not keeping up with community demand and that in the 5 years to 2021, only the equivalent of 4,200 full-time GPs were added to the workforce

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the GP shortfall projections were “unimaginable” and all the evidence showed the pressures on GPs would not ease up.

“It should come as no surprise that we’re failing to fill all our available GP training places each year given the impact of the extended freeze on Medicare rebates for GP services, cuts to prevocational GP training places, and the abject failure of governments to deliver the support general practice needs to deal with the increasingly complex health care needs of the community.

“We need long-term solutions to improve access to GP-led care for patients, including in rural and remote areas that have been hardest hit by workforce shortages. Right now, we need all levels of government to work together with the health sector to resolve the GP workforce issues. These state-based quick fixes are not the answer.”

**Same-day appointments are typically available when made prior to 4 pm (AEST / QLD time which is 1 hour behind NSW / VIC).

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