Improving access to GPs through telehealth

Residents of Matakana Island in the Bay of Plenty have improved access to health care thanks to a new telehealth service on the Island.

The service, which the Bay of Plenty DHB started trialling 2 years ago, enables GP consultations to take place in remote areas through the use of video conferencing.

Matakana is a small island situated in Tauranga Harbour with a population of around 300. Formerly, a GP would travel from the mainland to the island every fortnight. This was often only to see a handful of patients. Now the GP is accessible by video appointment every weekday at Te Akau Hauora, a Māori Health provider clinic in Papamoa.

Staff from Te Awanui Hauora Trust on Matakana Island are trained to provide support to both the patient and the GP during the video conference. The GP continues to visit in person every 3 to 4 weeks.

David Spear, a GP at Te Akau Hauora clinic says the advantage for routine consultations is that people don’t have to spend half a day travelling by ferry to and from Tauranga. ‘You can start things and follow up locally.’

You can watch a recording of an actual consultation on the Bay of Plenty DHB website.

It’s a great example of Māori health providers, the community, and others working together to provide more accessible health care and address some of the known barriers in achieving greater equity in health outcomes.

Back to top