Sick people in Katherine and Tindal are becoming more comfortable talking to doctors via phone or video.
Health authorities say the number of local residents using the new after-hours tele-health service is growing.
One of the problems is many people say they still don’t know the service even exists.
Residents from Katherine and Tindal can use the After-Hours HealthNow service by calling 1800 931 165 (toll-free).
The free service is available between 6pm - 8am on weekdays, after noon on Saturday and all day Sunday and public holidays.
The telehealth service is not intended as a substitute or replacement for a patient’s regular GP care.
The after hours service will be trialled to the end of June this year and then re-assessed.
“Besides a slight dip over the December period, as was expected due to Christmas travel and other factors, overall access to the service has increased steadily since launch,” a spokeswoman for the NT NT Primary Health Care Network said today.
“We have had a positive response since launch informed by the broad support we have received from local residents and stakeholders.
“Early indications show that the service has resulted in potentially preventable hospitalisations, timely referrals to appropriate care, improved self-care and management at home.
“Referral sources include other providers, the local pharmacy, word of mouth and Google searches,” the spokeswoman said.
She said Telstra Health and NT PHN are continuously evaluating the service with the aim of improving client experience and will evaluate the overall effectiveness of the trial at its completion.
“The Trial Reference Group, which includes ambulance, hospital, general practice, Aboriginal health service, NT PHN representatives and a community representative, monitors the progress of the trial monthly and provides feedback.
“Marketing activities are ongoing to further promote the availability of the service.”
Funding has been available to help subsidise an after hours medical clinic for Katherine for years.
The Federal Government NT Primary Health Network said the launch of a new free “telehealth” service for Katherine follows two years without a clinic.
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