Food for thought: Uber model breaks new ground
AFTER years of fevered warnings about the Uberisation of general practice, it seems that it has finally arrived on Australian shores.
Dr Sudeer Mahadeo, a GP from Ipswich outside Brisbane, has launched UberDoc to allow patients to find “doctors whenever, wherever” via a smartphone app.
The app operates on a similar principle to the ride-sharing company Uber.
Patients can send a request for a home visit to nearby doctors, who can then accept or decline the job.
Dr Mahadeo says doctors who sign up with the scheme receive 80 per cent of all billings, including Medicare rebates for home visits, and are free to name their fee for any consult they offer.
Electronic prescribing coming
Patients can also use UberDoc for telehealth and specialist referrals, and Dr Mahadeo says the company plans to offer electronic prescribing as soon as the law is changed to allow it in October 2019.
“We are currently seeing about five or six patients a day, so it is not huge at the moment, but it is picking up,” he says.
A bigger obstacle than signing up patients may be convincing doctors to join the company, but Dr Mahadeo is hoping that GPs will be attracted to the flexibility offered by the app.
“A lot of doctors want a bit of flexibility, especially GPs,” he says.
“They don’t want to work in a practice all the time seeing patients in that pressure-cooker situation.
“GPs who are on holidays, or who have a few hours on a Saturday morning, can get on to the app, see a few people around them, do a few referrals, write a few medical certificates, so it actually increases their output.”
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More of an IT company
However, Dr Mahadeo’s plans may be slowed down by the recent advertising crackdown on medical deputising services offering home visits.
Under the new restrictions, services signed up to the Federal Government’s Approved Medical Deputising Service program cannot advertise directly to patients for business.
But Dr Mahadeo says the ban does not apply to UberDoc because it is a “digital platform”.
“We are not a medical deputising service and do not fall under that banner,” he says.
“In fact, we are more of an IT company.”
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