Guest: Dr. Aifric Boylan
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Dr Aifric Boylan is a practising GP, and Director of Qoctor, a start-up which provides a range of online health services. Originally from Ireland, Aifric completed her medical training at Trinity College Dublin, and went on to pursue a career in general practice. She was also a member of the executive committee of the National Association of General Practitioners in Ireland and has been a regular contributor to the GP Ireland magazine. She emigrated to Australia in late 2014, and has very happily settled in Melbourne.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment we are joined by Qoctor Director Dr. Aifric Boylan here to discuss their expanded services with the relaunch of Qoctor, formerly Dr Sicknote. Via their platform, patients are offered a range of services, including medical certificates, carers certificates, new and repeat referrals and consultations which are delivered straight to the patients inbox within minutes. Qoctor provides a cheap and safe alternative to deter people from wrongly self-diagnosing with the sheer volume of misleading health information online.
Health Professional Radio – Qoctor
Patrick Reyes: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, my name is Patrick Reyes. And on today show, we are joined by Dr. Aifric Boylan. She is a practicing GP. She completed her medical training at Trinity College Dublin. She is the Director of Qoctor, a startup which provides a range of online health services. Welcome to the show Aifric.
Dr. Aifric Boylan: Thank you.
P: Now can you go ahead and tell us about yourself and what it is that you do?
B: Yes. So I’m a full time GP, working in a group practice in Melbourne. I’ve been in Australia for two and a half years and myself and the team of GPs I work within the clinic, I suppose over the last few years identified needs that our patients have as I suppose life goes online and they’re looking to find ways to solve health problems and not necessarily coming to the clinic for everything. I guess we’ve looked at ways to try and solve that for them and providing the online option of getting various health services through our website.
P: Now we’ll be talking about the relaunching of, it was known before as ‘Dr. Sicknote’ but now is called ‘Qoctor’. What is Qoctor?
B: I guess to go back to the Dr. Sicknote’s concept was I supposed was fairly one dimensional. We were just offering medical certificates and there was quite a simple idea really to just sort of keep people with minor illnesses out of the surgery. And because they didn’t really stand for physical examinations and most of those things could be solved and start at conversation. And we would obviously if they needed the examination, we would re-direct them to their GP. With Qoctor, I supposed we realized there were other things we could offer online and carry the Dr. Sicknote title was trying the sense to do one thing. It was also probably a little bit cheeky as a name. I guess Qoctor was just, we see it as a quirky name as well but it allows us to do more things and offer more services and… we’re not just doing the medical certificates, we can look at other horizons now.
P: What was the process behind it? How did it come about?
B: Well I suppose, it was probably the brainchild of one of my colleagues … who actually just identified that the need at the very start that the medical certificates. I suppose as a practice of fairly young GPs, we were probably just becoming conscious of the fact that day-to-day, we were seeing patients who had taken … days and people like us, young, busy relate to it really, but a lot of people commuting and very time pressed and you just feel guilty sometimes that they’d taken such a nice time out of their day for something that being honest was… from their workplace or from their home. When really it just required a conversation and some paperwork or whatever. So it’s about being honest I guess and identifying need our patients had and just prepare a conversation that we’re having and we realize, “Well if you do medical certificates online, there are other things you can do online as well.” I guess what we felt was while there are from similar kind of outlets already in the online space, we were very conscious of our vocational GP background and our aim I guess is try and see if we could find a way to bring those values and the vocational aspects online. We knew that it was something that would cause I suppose a little bit of discomfort for the traditional kind of model of being a GP and that’s fine. That’s to be expected but we felt just us looking around where we can see there were more and more ASIX going online in. We felt like maybe having a service like ours that it was being driven by the GPs themselves was a good thing, but we could bring our vocational background and trying and instill into the work we’re doing online rather than it having a more corporate eSoft which I think will happen inevitably with other brands and other websites that will pop-up into place. The challenge was to bring our vocational training and try to provide quality and safety and something that people need so that I suppose is the thinking behind it.
P: What are some of the services your online patients can get from Qoctor?
B: As of the moment, medical certificates, care certificates and we are looking at launching an array of prescriptions online in the next few months, that’s sort of a work-in-progress, not ongoing as yet but very much and in the pipeline. We do an array of new referral letters for certain conditions that we feel don’t require in-depth physical examination that are kind of suitable for a more kind of history-based approach that the information that we can get from a patient online is enough to pass over to a specialist. We do repeat referrals for people who’ve seen specialists umpteen times before, I just need to go back and need that piece of paperwork and if you don’t need to go to the GP for another reason, this is the one way they can do it quickly from the workplace or home. Again, we gather as much as information as we can to make sure it’s a robust referral letter. We also do a reboot, for someone has referral for a specialist and they decide that another specialist has a shorter wait time, we can do a change of a specialist referral and the patient will still need the original referral letter and we will attend and the letter we’ve done and to redirect it to a different specialist in the same field. That’s the sort of current array of products but like I say, we’re looking out to reach towards the prescribing side of things now and then consulting is obviously the next choice as well in terms of giving not just simple online consults for medical certificates but doing things like maybe a face-to-face consults or online consult for whole wide variety of allied health and maybe the specialists and then GP consults for more complicated issues that require maybe a longer appointment or perhaps even diagnostics. It’s opening up the whole area, I mean there’s so much that can be done and … tied up with other services that out there and kind of bring it all together online is our ultimate aim. It may be set at the moment, we’re getting there.
P: Right. Where can people learn more about Qoctor?
B: There hasn’t been many misconception n our website about what we’re doing, why we’re doing and the various products there. Browse through the website, I think it’s pretty self-explanatory and that’s probably the best place to learn about us I suppose and there’s a lot of recent media articles about us as well but the clearest information will be on our website, it’s www.qoctors.com.au
P: Alright. What common misconceptions have you heard from the public about Qoctor?
B: There haven’t been many misconceptions. I mean I think most regular people just see it as a really useful way to solve a very common simple problem they have in their lives. Obviously, inevitably, there are people who make comments maybe on our Facebook page or elsewhere on forums or whatever online. “Is this real?” “Can this be true?” They actually doubt if we work online, that people are surprised that it exists. Some people think, “These GPs mustn’t be up to the mark.” Or it’s not genuine or “It’s not as good as what we would get in person.” But I think once people actually use it they realize we’re regular GPs, all of us work in regular clinics. We bring ourselves, we hold ourselves the same standards we would in the clinic. It’s not even more so because you’re online, you have to be extra careful, take very careful history, make sure you’ve taken notes thoroughly so by using it people are reassured. We’ve got the cheeky name, we try to communicate in a sort of a fairly straightforward way with the public. Sometimes maybe that’s not what people expect from doctors, but I think the time has come to be open our eyes … more kind of on the sort of the same kind of forcing of the people who are using the service. But I think by large, I mean overwhelmingly people accept them, ‘What a great idea. This is so useful. It’s all problems I have in my daily life.’ I think probably, if we’re being honest, it is probably a bit challenging for other metrics and tough to be expected. It is pretty different way of doing things. But all I say, when people ask us “We are a group of vocational trained GPs. We are all very hardworking in our day-to-day practices. We’re trying to do something different online for our patients and the people who want to use the online service will use it and those that prefer the sort of person-to-person contact with their GP can continue to do that.” That just gives people a choice.”
P: Now before we go ahead and end our segment, what is the message you would like to leave for our audience today?
B: It’s new and it’s maybe a little bit daunting and think of seeing a doctor online. But I think it’s one of those things that people should try especially if they’re busy and are time pressed and find themselves taking a lot of time out of their day just for minor things. We can certainly offer a helping hand there. I think just try it to have a look at the website, have a browse around and yes, just give it a go really. I thought that … it might not be for everybody, but it’s certainly a helpful service for a lot of people.
P: Alright. Well it’s been a pleasure talking to you today Aifric.
B: Thank you very much. Lovely talking to you too.
P: Thank you. Now you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Patrick Reyes and we’ve been in conversation with Dr. Aifric Boylan as we talked about Qoctor, your quick online doctor. If you’ve missed our conversation or if you’d like to listen to this interview again, transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.