14 Feb 2012

Perth residents wanting to see a GP can now book appointments online after the launch today (FEB 14) of a service making it easier to find a doctor and taking pressure off public hospitals.

Healthengine.com.au will list available GP appointments from doctors across the metropolitan area, including after hours clinics, saving people from having to ring around. Perth is the first Australian city to get the service, which will be rolled out to other states this year.

HealthEngine director Dr Marcus Tan said people often waited days or weeks to see their local GP and booking online was better than heading to a hospital for minor complaints. “Hospitals we know are incredibly busy and they are under a lot of pressure. A lot of patients that go can’t find a GP during hours. What we are allowing patients to do is find a GP easily and also allow the emergency departments to suggest where the patients could go as a resource,” he said.

“It’s incredibly easy for a patient to book. It takes only a couple of minutes from finding a practice that you want to see, a time that you want to see them, booking the appointment securely and having the verification that you have got a confirmed appointment.”

HealthEngine tested online booking over the Christmas holidays with more than 500 patients making appointments through the system. Twenty GP clinics have signed up and Dr Tan expects more to join.

“Practices love it because it takes a lot of pressure off their front desk staff,” he said. “Doctors who are new to the practice are able to get new patients and for any gaps that come up because of late cancellations, doctors are able to fill that quite quickly as well.”