Comprehensive health services app for ACT residents

The ACT government has launched a free Find a Health Service app for consumers to search for healthcare services, practitioners and after-hours information on their mobile devices.

An extension of the ACT's Find a Health Service website, the app is available from Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPad and from Google Play for Android devices.

Particularly targeted at after-hours healthcare availability, it also includes details for GPs, dental services, pathology, imaging, optometry, mental health, aged care, hospitals, specialists, pharmacies, community health, psychology and cancer services.

While the ACT government is supporting the National Health Services Directory (NHSD), which also has released an app for GPs, hospitals, pharmacies and emergency departments, a spokesperson for the ACT Government Health Directorate said the app and website provide far richer functionality as well as comprehensive descriptions about each service or practitioner.

“The NHSD website or mobile app cannot provide the same level of functionality or service descriptions because the other contributing states have not yet populated their data to the same exact standards,” the spokesperson said.

“It is difficult for larger jurisdictions to provide the ongoing updates that this level of information requires, in order to be effective for users.”

The app is the first of its kind to be released by the ACT government and implements recommendations made in four separate reports, including the GP Taskforce, the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Access into Primary Health Care, and the 2009 and 2010 GP Interaction Survey reports.

ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher, said app has been developed through collaboration with ACT Medical Local and in consultation with the ACT Health Consumers Association to ensure it uses consumer-friendly search options and makes finding a health service or practitioner far easier, particularly after hours.

“It is hoped the Find a Health Service mobile app will increase [people 's] confidence about finding and accessing after hours medical care in their local community, and importantly where the health service they need is available first,” Ms Gallagher said.

The app requires location services to be switched on as it has the capability to allow geo-clustering points on Google maps to show if there are similar services nearby.

It allows users to search by a specific service type within each service category, by a clickable Canberra region map, by availability options such as ‘open now’ or ‘after hours’, and to search by keywords across all services or practitioners.

The ACT Health spokesperson said it also included comprehensive service descriptions throughout including access or appointment requirements, email addresses, links to websites and campus maps for condensed workplaces like hospitals.

It also has icons for facilities available at the service like disabled toilets and the ability to save services or practitioners as ‘favourites’ on the app’s homepage.

Practitioner-specific categories have been included to allow consumers to find a practitioner by a spoken language, medical specialty or cultural background, a feature the NHSD also plans to eventually include.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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