Nelson Marlborough Health is piloting virtual health consultations to improve access to healthcare as part of our Models of Care programme.

A virtual health consultation is a medical consultation between a patient and a healthcare professional using video and audio conferencing software over the internet.

Attending a virtual health consultation means that you do not have to travel to a hospital appointment. The benefits include:

  • reduced or no travel time
  • your home is your waiting room
  • your local healthcare professional (eg GP, practice nurse or other) may attend with you.

When you are referred to a specialist service with Nelson Marlborough Health, we will consider if a virtual health consultation is suitable for you. Not all referral consultations are suitable; only those that do not require examinations or tests can currently be considered.

Where suitable, we will contact you to offer the opportunity for a virtual health consultation. You can always choose a face-to-face consultation at Nelson Marlborough Health if you prefer.

Questions & answers

For a virtual health consultation, you will need a good internet connection and access to a device such as a computer, tablet or smartphone. The device should have a web camera, speakers and a microphone.

The virtual health consultation is usually free (except for your internet data usage). If you have been referred to a specialist service with Nelson Marlborough Health and you are eligible for publicly funded healthcare, your consultation is free. However, if an additional healthcare professional is involved in the consultation (eg, a practice nurse), his/her usual fee may apply.

A virtual health consultation uses less than half of the data you would use while watching a YouTube video in high definition*.

Data use is less on lower-speed internet connections, or if you’re using a less powerful computer, tablet, or smartphone. These factors can also reduce the overall quality of the video and audio during the consultation.

Data use increases when there are more than two participants in the consultation, ie, if your GP or practice nurse also joins the consultation, data use will increase.

*That's about 230MB on a mobile device, and 450MB on a PC for a 20 minute call, which is similar to Skype® or FaceTime®.

The technology used to deliver virtual health consultations is secure. Only authorised healthcare professionals can join the virtual health consultation.

To ensure that your privacy is protected, it is recommended that you have the consultation in a private and quiet location where you won’t be disturbed.

You can help get the best from a virtual health consultation by following these simple steps:

  • allow yourself 15 minutes to sign into your appointment 
  • avoid wearing brightly patterned or reflective clothing as this may not show up well on camera
  • make sure the room your are in is well-lit, quiet and free of distractions
  • speak clearly so your voice can be picked up by the microphone
  • look at the camera so you can achieve good eye contact with the healthcare professional
  • if you have a question or need help during the consultation, please let the healthcare professional know and they will aim to answer your questions.

You and the healthcare professional will be visible on each other's device screen. Your GP or practice nurse may also attend from their own device.

At the start of the consultation, everyone will introduce themselves and the reason for the consultation will be explained. Just like a face-to-face consultation, you will be asked some questions to make sure you are the right patient, eg, name, address and date of birth.

The healthcare professional will talk to you and ask questions. You can also ask questions of them.

As with a face-to-face appointment, you are welcome to have a support person/whānau attend your consultation with you.

If you would like a support person to join from another location, this is possible. Please let NMH know prior to the appointment as this may impact on how the booking is made.

The virtual health consultation will not usually be recorded. However, if your healthcare professional or your GP thinks it would be helpful for your treatment to record particular images during your consultation, they would first need to seek your written permission to do so.

If a prescription or other investigations are required, your health professional will send an electronic prescription or referral to the pharmacy or provider.

Feedback

If you have recently had a virtual health consultation with Nelson Marlborough Health, we’re keen to hear from you so we can continue to improve our services.  Complete our Online Feedback Form here or view the other ways you can provide feedback.