Eastern Melbourne PHN is announcing the ceasing of free after-hours consultations to the My Emergency Doctor service on 30 September 2023. The My Emergency Doctor service has provided a crucial service since it commenced in July 2018. When this after-hours service was launched, people were not accustomed to utilising telehealth services. If you needed after-hours assistance, you visited the hospital emergency department or waited to see your GP. My Emergency Doctor provided service options in areas with little or no access to after-hours services including the outer EMPHN regions of Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges and residential aged care facilities.
In the service’s first year, they were receiving more than 350 calls a month. However, the service truly hit capacity when the pandemic commenced. In March 2020, with the community unable to see doctors face-to-face and avoiding emergency departments, there were more than 700 calls per month and through the 2021-2022 financial year they provided more than 7600 consultations at an average of 641 calls a month.
Over the life of the program there have been more than 28,000 consultations with an in-situ rate of approximately 88%, meaning that patients were able to be entirely assisted without the need to go to an emergency department or wait for their GP. The service was able to divert resources and costs from the hospital system and showed excellent patient satisfaction rates and cost effectiveness. This model has been replicated across the state by the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) and is funded by the Victorian State Government and operated through Northern Health.
The ways that the community can access health services has evolved greatly since the pandemic and the My Emergency Doctor service has been at the forefront of innovation for after-hours care. There is now a range of services available when and where patients need it most as we look for new ways to build a more sustainable and accessible approach to health care.
The Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) is a free telehealth service available to all Victorians.
Priority Primary Care Centres (PPCCs) are a free GP-led service operating a face-to-face service 7 days a week and after-hours. There are six centres located in the EMPHN catchment.