General practice and Alert Level 2 – what to expect

 
14 May 2020

As an essential service your general practice remained open throughout the COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3 (“lockdown”) but for your own safety your care team offered you ‘virtual care’ where they could. This was because early data coming from Italy strongly indicated reducing in person visits to general practice was essential in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

What is virtual care?

This is care provided without you visiting your general practice in person. It is sometimes referred to as telehealth, virtual healthcare or e-consultations.

For many of your health and wellbeing concerns your doctor or nurse can provide the care and support you need virtually. This can be by securely messaging your care team via your patient portal, emailing, speaking on the phone or having a video chat.

Learn more about virtual care on the Health Navigator site.


General practice and Alert Level 2 – what to expect

What is virtual first?

Put simply ‘virtual first’ means call your practice before you visit – there is no fancy equipment required, just give them a ring!

If you have registered to use a patient portal (such as my indici or ManageMyHealth) you can use the portal as a first option to get in touch instead of the phone.

COVID-19 will remain a possibility in the community until a vaccine is available and physical distancing is one of the best ways of controlling the spread. This means your general practice will need to know if you have COVID-19 symptoms or think you are at risk of infection so they can provide you the care you need while keeping their other patients safe too.

Please always make contact with your general practice first before arriving in person. This not only lets your practice team understand your needs but also means they can offer you choices on how you receive your care.

In person visits are safe

If together you and your care team decide a visit in person is the best option for you please rest assured your practice is a safe place for you to visit – during the lockdown all general practices made changes to the way they work to ensure this.

To increase physical distancing you may find you are directed to a different waiting area than before or you may be asked to wait in your car until it is time for your appointment. Some practices may see people with different health concerns at different time of the day in order to further protect those who may be more vulnerable.

You have options

As well as helping to control the risk of COVID-19 spread, virtual care has benefits to you as a patient.

One of the major advantages is saving time travelling to and from appointments. You can have your appointment from home or work which may make it easier to balance getting the care you need with the other demands you juggle in your life. Some virtual options are more cost effective than in person consultations too.

Play it safe

You have more freedom of movement at Alert Level 2, but it’s up to each one of us to keep the rest of New Zealand safe.
  • COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  • Keep your distance from other people in public.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
  • If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or the COVID-19 Healthline (0800 358 5453) and get advice about being tested.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, regularly disinfect surfaces.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
  • Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.
  • Learn more about Alert Level 2 at the covid19.govt.nz website.

Remember

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, call your doctor or the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline number on 0800 358 5453.
  • For any other health concerns, call your doctor or the general Healthline number on 0800 611 116. All calls to Healthline are free and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Call Plunketline if you have questions about your child or baby’s health or wellbeing on 0800 933 922 and speak to a Plunket nurse. Plunketline runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Contact your midwife for support and advice during pregnancy and postnatally.