App avoids unnecessary emergency department visits over festive season

App avoids unnecessary emergency department visits over festive season

Digital health technology connects people to emergency doctors within minutes

02 January, 2020

Digital health technology can conveniently connect people to healthcare when their usual GP is not available over the festive season, reducing unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments. 

The My Emergency Dr app connects people to Australian-registered specialist emergency doctors within minutes, enabling the doctors to use smart phone enabled cameras to help with diagnosis. 

The fortnight over Christmas and New Year's Day is notoriously busy for emergency departments; many local general practices are closed and people are away from home visiting family and friends. 

Funded by the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN) for residents in eastern and north-eastern Melbourne, the service fills a gap where communities, particularly those on the urban fringe, cannot access the urgent advice and care they need. 

Worri Yallock resident Stuart Wilson recently used the service for his son Sunny who was bitten by a spider in their backyard.  

“We called My Emergency Dr and was put through to an emergency specialist doctor within five minutes who was able to assess the swelling via video call. The doctor told us what to do to reduce the pain and swelling and symptoms to look out for overnight. 

“This was extremely helpful for us as the nearest emergency department is 45 minutes away,” Mr Wilson said. 

EMPHN CEO Robin Whyte said the service can be used for semi-urgent to urgent conditions for residents, particularly when their usual GP isn’t open.  

“Especially in December and early January many areas are often under serviced by visiting home doctors or have a lack of access to general practices open in the after-hours, meaning many people end up in emergency when they don’t need to be there,” Ms Whyte said.  

Justin Bowra, CEO and founder of ConnectedMed, the company who operate the My Emergency Dr, said the service is available Australia-wide at a cost however is free for people in eastern and north-eastern Melbourne. 

“Since launching the app, we’ve consulted with 30,000 people from all over Australia,” Mr Bowra said.   

My Emergency Dr also works with Ambulance Victoria and Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) around Victoria. 

My Emergency Dr is supported by Australian Government funding under the PHN program. 
1800 123 633  
Download the My Emergency Dr App from the App Store or Google Play and input your postcode when required.  
The service is free for people living in these postcodes
Please note that this is not a replacement for the emergency 000 service. If the patient has a time-critical emergency such as chest pain or difficulty breathing, call 000 without delay.

Eastern Melbourne PHN is a Primary Health Network primarily funded by the Australian Government to improve the care and support people receive from health services. We aim to improve the health of our community by ensuring people receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time. 

EMPHN’s community of almost 1.5 million people live through eastern and north-eastern Melbourne, from the inner-east municipality of Boorondara, to beyond the growth areas of Whittlesea as far as Kinglake in the north and east to the Yarra Ranges. Services include mental health, alcohol and other drugs, aboriginal health, chronic disease, digital health and general practice support.