With their children back in school, and their home life in tatters, a young couple in their mid-30s decided to try and find a specialist online to get the services they needed.
But when they tried to book an appointment for a gastroenterologist, the online search results were all “doctor”.
“We were looking for an appointment, and there was no one that was listed,” Dr Andrew Wessels said.
“We thought we were being ripped off.
So we clicked on the doctor’s name, and it was just all ‘doctor’.”
The couple wanted an online doctor for their children, who were three and four.
The online doctor’s online billing information was listed as “Gastroenterologist”.
“There was no indication that the doctor was a doctor, there was nothing that said they were,” Dr Wesseling said.”[We] called the phone number and asked for an interpreter, and they came out and told us to call the next day and we’d be in touch.”
It was a relief, and Dr Wethers said it helped to have an interpreter on hand when speaking to a doctor.
“That really did save us a lot of time.”
So for our kids, it was a godsend,” he said.
Dr Wessel was one of about 10,000 people who signed up to be a GP for free on the internet provider’s site, in an effort to promote the online doctor service.”
There were some problems with the initial site, but we got through it and we have a lot more to do with that, so we’ve done that again,” he explained.”
I think the internet is going to make a huge difference for the Australian people.
“We can’t have the system of the NHS without the internet.”
Dr Wethering and his wife have two young children who are now in their 20s, and want a better internet connection.
“The internet has been a godsending for us, and we’re going to be really happy about that, because we’ve got a family now,” he joked.
Dr Peter Wessel says he was happy to see the online GP’s name appear in the Google search results.
“It really helped us to get a phone call when we called and get the appointment,” he told 7.30.
“Now we don’t have to be waiting, and now we can get the doctor we need.”
In the UK, we were just like, ‘what is going on?’
“He added the new GP was a local, and he would contact the GP in the local area for more information.”
When we’re getting things sorted, we can call them up, they’ll get in touch with us and it’ll go from there,” he concluded.
The Australian Society of Family Practice (ASFP) said there were many other providers who were offering free online services, and the online provider was no different.”
Most of the providers we’ve looked at do it for free, so they don’t charge you for it, so you’re not really getting a discount,” ASFP chief executive director Peter Wilson said.
The service was available in New South Wales and Queensland and has been available in the Northern Territory since April.