Everything You Need to Know About Online Doctor Appointments In Australia

September 29, 2023by Gillian Alexis
Girl with cell phone, laptop and cup of coffee booking a telehealth appointment.
Image Source: 123RF.com

If you’re in Australia, you’ve probably noticed that telehealth has become increasingly popular over the last few years. But if you haven’t experienced an online doctor appointment for yourself yet, you might be wondering what they’re all about. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about online doctor appointments, including the benefits, the process, and more.

What is an online doctor appointment?

An online doctor appointment, also known as a telehealth appointment, is a virtual medical consultation that connects you with a fully qualified healthcare professional through a digital platform. These appointments are typically facilitated via an online booking system, which lets you schedule consultations at your convenience.

The beauty of online doctor appointments lies in their flexibility. With providers like Phenix Health, patients have access to healthcare professionals 24/7, breaking the traditional constraints of office hours. This is particularly beneficial for those who might have commitments during the usual 9-5 clinic hours, or for anyone who requires medical advice outside of the standard hours, like on public holidays.

In an online doctor appointment, the consultation can occur over different digital platforms. This could be a phone call, a video conference, or sometimes via a chat feature. You can make the choice based on preference, technology comfort levels, and the nature of the medical concern.

Regardless of the digital mode, your consultation with the healthcare professional will be similar to a face-to-face appointment. They typically last 15 minutes and your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any other relevant health information. They can also examine visible symptoms over a video call, advise on treatments, prescribe medications, and if necessary, refer you to a specialist or for further testing.

These online appointments are designed to be secure and confidential. With advancements in technology, online platforms adhere to rigorous privacy standards to ensure that your personal and health information remains protected.
What can you book an online doctor appointment for?

What can you book an online doctor appointment for?

Donut graph that represents respondents' answers to the question “What was the primary reason for your telehealth consult?” from a survey on Australian healthcare.

From routine check-ups and follow-ups to managing chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension, online appointments have really become a comprehensive healthcare solution. They’re suited to a wide range of medical concerns and can go beyond addressing general health queries or minor ailments. Many healthcare professionals provide mental health consultations, nutrition advice, specialist referrals and more through telehealth.

Prescription refills are another common reason to book an online doctor appointment. If you’re on regular medication and just need a prescription top-up, an online appointment can save you the hassle of visiting a clinic.

The scope of online doctor appointments is expanding every day, and they’ve proven particularly beneficial in times when mobility might be restricted, such as during pandemic lockdowns. If you’re looking to see whether online healthcare can help your medical needs, check out our information for patients here.

When is it best to go to the doctor in person?

While online doctor appointments are a game-changer for healthcare accessibility, there are still instances where an in-person visit to the doctor’s office is necessary.

Any situation that requires a physical examination or hands-on intervention calls for a traditional appointment. For example, if you have symptoms like severe abdominal pain or uncontrolled bleeding, you should seek immediate, in-person medical attention.

Routine screenings and tests, such as mammograms, pap smears, or colonoscopies, also necessitate a visit to a healthcare facility. Likewise, vaccinations or any procedures that require special medical equipment cannot be administered online and require a physical visit.

It’s also worth noting that while the majority of consultations can be successfully conducted online, some people may simply feel more comfortable with a traditional, face-to-face interaction with their doctor, especially when discussing sensitive or complex health issues.

The key is to use a mix of both online and in-person appointments to manage your health effectively based on your personal health circumstances and the nature of your medical concerns. Always remember that in emergency situations, it’s crucial to seek immediate in-person care or call emergency services.

How do you book an online doctor’s appointment?

The online booking process may vary slightly depending on the platform that you choose to book a telehealth appointment with. However, most platforms will ask you to answer a few demographic and health-related questions before allowing you to pick an appointment time that suits your schedule.

If you choose to have an appointment over the phone, the healthcare provider will call your phone number at the time of your appointment. If you choose a video appointment, you’ll typically be sent a link that you can use to join the video call.

Depending on the outcome of your appointment, the doctor may issue you a prescription, refer you to other healthcare providers, or ask for a follow-up appointment. If the doctor issued any prescriptions, they’ll often send you an electronic prescription which you can take to your preferred pharmacy. Many doctors will even be able to send the e-script directly to the pharmacy for you.

What are the benefits of online doctor appointments?

Donut graph that represents respondents' answers to the question “Why did you choose telehealth?” from a survey on Australian healthcare.

Patients love having their doctor’s appointments online because it’s convenient, fast, and you get the same level of high-quality care. They also mean you don’t have to leave home when you’re already feeling sick, putting you at risk of worsening your condition or getting others sick.

Another important factor is that online appointments offer more flexibility in timeslots, so patients don’t have to take off work to go to the appointment. It’s also a great tool for those living in remote areas or who may have a disability that makes it harder for them to get to an appointment.

Here are the main benefits of online healthcare appointments for patients:

  • Flexible
  • Fast
  • Convenient
  • Cost-effective
  • Stay healthy at home

Online appointment systems are fantastic for doctors too and have been a hit across the healthcare industry! In fact, about half of all Australian doctors now use online medical appointment software. Now, healthcare providers who were previously burdened with managing their workload can reduce waiting periods, saving money, time and resources.

Here are the main reasons why Australian doctors are choosing to use online booking software:

  • Makes it easier for them to manage their schedule.
  • Staff resources can be better utilised instead of using them to answer the phones and make appointments.
  • It boosts efficiency so they can help more patients throughout the day.

Can you book an online doctor appointment for someone else?

Yes, you can book a doctor’s appointment for someone else. This can be really helpful if you need to arrange a doctor’s visit for a family member, friend, or anyone else who needs a hand.

So how does it work? First, you’ll need the basic details of the person you’re booking for. Then, using the online booking system, you can schedule the appointment just like you would do for yourself. However, the person for whom you’ve booked the appointment must be the one who talks to the doctor during the call.

If the person you’re helping needs medicine, the doctor can issue a digital prescription during the online visit. The patient can then send this digital prescription, known as an “e-token,” to you. With this e-token, you can go to the pharmacy and get the medicine for them.

Remember, you can always help during the doctor’s visit if needed. As long as the patient agrees, you can join the appointment to offer any needed support. This is very useful when it comes to understanding treatment plans or instructions for medicines.

Are online doctor appointments cost-effective?

In terms of cost, online doctor appointments are a great choice for patients. Firstly, the costs associated with commuting to a doctor’s office are entirely eliminated. This is particularly beneficial for patients living in remote areas who would otherwise need to travel long distances for a medical consultation. Additionally, the saying “time is money” rings true. The time saved from not having to sit in waiting rooms can be translated into productivity gains, further adding to cost-effectiveness. In Australia, many doctors are also now charging out-of-pocket fees, making telehealth an even more affordable option.

Telehealth is also cost-efficient for healthcare providers because it can lead to increased efficiency. By eliminating the need for physical space for every appointment, doctors can optimise their schedules and potentially increase the number of patients they see each day. Online consultations also reduce the overheads associated with maintaining a physical office, such as rent, utilities, and cleaning services.

Book your next online appointment with Phenix Health

In the digital age, integrating technology into our everyday activities has become increasingly important – and healthcare is no exception. At Phenix Health, our online booking system allows you to experience flexibility and convenience in healthcare like never before. Plus, we even offer bulk billing appointments with nurse practitioners!

Available 24/7, 365 days a year, our system allows you to book your medical consultations at any time and from any place. Simply visit us at Phenix Health to arrange your next healthcare appointment.