Online health startup Doctus promises Australians a cost-effective alternative for simple, low-risk medical conditions, as controversy rages over the proposed $7 Medicare co-payment scheme that was introduced as part of the federal budget.
The online medical service is intended as a complement to traditional GP services, to be used between visits, and primarily intended for patients who live in remote or rural areas, or who would have difficulty making an appointment during work hours.
Doctus director Sarah Beckwith told Private Media the service is also a more cost-effective alternative for many patients.
“Doctus takes the hassle out of going to the doctor, you can get a prescription from the comfort of your own living room. This means no long waits, no travel time and avoiding potential embarrassment. Our goal is to make healthcare easily accessible for everyone,” Beckwith says.
Beckwith explains the online medical service works through a three-step process.
“First, select your medication. Secondly, complete an online questionnaire which gets reviewed by an Australian registered doctor, and third, your medication is delivered, we service nationwide,” she says.
“Patients can have the consult anywhere, we are also mobile and tablet friendly. Patients don’t need an appointment, they can use Doctus at any time.”
The questionnaires cover a range common ailments, including contraception, digestion, erectile dysfunction, gout, STDs-chlamydia, prostate, asthma, emphysema, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and cholesterol.
While the service does sell prescribed medications and deliver prescriptions, it does not offer addictive substances (narcotics such as morphine or benzodiazepines such as Valium) medicines that require intensive monitoring, or have a high risk of adverse side effects.
“Doctus patients will not be affected by any new health taxes. Doctus doesn’t have a Medicare rebate so isn’t affected by the co-payment. Not everyone has easy access to a bulk-billing doctor. Doctus frees up the health care system for people who really need it, it can often be a more convenient solution for simple medical needs,” Beckwith says.
“There is a small consultation fee ($24.95 includes free delivery) and great prices on the medications. Doctus is often more cost effective for our customers, particularly people living in rural or remote areas where there is a shortage of doctors and they often have increased waiting time and expenses.”
Doctus points out the service is not intended for patients suffering complex illnesses such as diabetes, chronic pain, or severe psychiatric conditions and that patients should not abandon regular trips to their GP.