Our mission for 'The Waiting Room' is to connect patients and clinicians virtually making healthcare easier and accessible. Part of this is to reduce inequity among those who feature quite poorly in health statistics. Our Maori and Pacific Island ethnic groups suffer more of the health illnesses we see across New Zealand. This also includes those with low socioeconomic backgrounds who find it harder to access healthcare.
We therefore targeted those groups who have a Community Services Card or a High Use Health Card. There is some funding from District Health Boards (DHB) that can help alleviate some cost constraints for our most vulnerable groups. This led to our team sending our application to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to distribute to all 20 DHBs. Three came back quite quickly declining our application however we are so grateful that Counties Manukau DHB were the first to approve this funding last week. Especially seeing that our healthcare model is different to those who provide care in physical clinics. Our understanding is that this is the first time such a DHB has ever approved a Telehealth Provider such as ours.
We have now updated our fees and have for the first time introduced Subsidised Fees for those who live in the Counties Manukau area and have a current CSC/HUHC card. As we do not receive other funding from the Ministry of Health we came to a conclusion that we do not want to see inequity grow with those who are unable to access our service. We therefore dropped our Subsidised Fees further to match those seeing their doctors in clinic. So we currently have it at $18 to help our community. We hope in the near future that the MOH will be able to provide further funding to help people access our service. Also for all the DHBs to approve funding to allow their communities with CSC/HUHC access subsidised care via a virtual platform. Thank you Counties Manukau DHB for taking that first bold step in ensuring that our most vulnerable communities access care from a place that is culturally appropriate, convenient and safe for them.