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Free telehealth appointments for nurses and doctors

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A collective of South Australian allied health providers who have been forced to stop face-to-face consultations are offering free telehealth appointments to medical professionals during the coronavirus crisis.

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Set to launch on Friday, the Frontline Healthcare initiative aims to ensure nurses and doctors working during the crisis are taking care of their own wellbeing.

It also provides allied health workers who’ve been forced to shut their doors a way of giving back to their colleagues at the coalface of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frontline Health co-founder and physiotherapist Peter Flynn said the platform would launch with 25 allied health businesses, including physiotherapists and osteopaths, who had volunteered to provide online consultations for up to the next six months.

Initially developed for SA medical health professionals, the service could expand interstate and has had interest from 53 clinics, including some wanting to participate in Melbourne and Sydney.

“It’s a platform where people can volunteer a bit of their time, whether that’s because they’ve lost their job or they’ve closed their business or they’ve got a significant downturn. That’s what all allied healthcare workers are facing at the moment,” Flynn said.

“People want to give back and feel as though they’re contributing in a meaningful way at this time. I think when you can’t do anything for yourself – because that’s kind of taken out of your control – it’s really amazing to be able to do something for other people.

“Most people get into healthcare because they genuinely want to help other people – and this really fulfils that need in many of us.”

Last year, Flynn was named one of InDaily’s 40 Under 40 winners for his work as director and co-founder of Modbury business Physio Fit Adelaide and as a business consultant who has helped allied health clinics across Australia to grow and improve their services.

Physio Fit Adelaide clinics offer a combination of manual therapies and functional gym services, which aim to accelerate injury recovery.

Flynn said developing the latest initiative was a collaboration between Filtrd Media, Identity Marketing and Clinic Mastery and software management business Cliniko, who had come together to donate their time and resources.

He said Frontline Health would use a telehealth video service and software management program developed by Cliniko, as well as online exercise software Physitrack to provide services.

He said while telehealth appointments would not be possible for all services, many could be moved online.

“From a physiotherapy perspective … very little of physiotherapy is actually hands-on. The general perception is that you come into the clinic, get a massage and you feel better. But … hands-on work accounts for maybe five to 10 per cent of the actual results,” Flynn said.

“It’s all of the other factors that play a bigger role. For example, the interaction with the therapist, and even being listened to, has a bigger effect on decreasing pain than anything my hands could do.

“The results are in … creating a plan that someone can follow and empowering them to get themselves out of pain. And we can do all of that as a consultation over the internet.”

Medical practitioners will need to show proof of employment and will be able to book either an initial 60 appointment or 30 minute follow-up.

“The therapist will get a notification that someone has booked, a link will be sent to the patient and when the appointment time comes around, they simply need to click and they will enter the telehealth virtual consult,” Flynn said.

Frontline Health is the second initiative Flynn has co-launched in the past week to assist businesses impacted by coronavirus.

Flynn (left) and Will Giles launched Save Local Business last week.

On Sunday, he and Filtrd Media co-founder Will Giles established Save Local Business, a national platform where small businesses can sell gift cards to be used for future services and products.

“A lot of cafes, restaurants, gyms etcetera have been forced to close for the moment and so they have no cash coming through but they still have overheads,” Flynn said.

“So people can go to the site, find their favourite local business or restaurant and inject cash into the businesses so that they’re still there in six months time when, hopefully, this is all over.

“Hopefully we can help people to not just keep their business, but keep someone employed – which I think would be huge.”

He said the opportunity to create these initiatives was aided by his success as a business leader, thanks in part to recognition he’d received as a 40 Under 40 alumni.

“My business mentor advised me to take part in as many awards and programs as possible. It might be that one award that people recognise which means they take you more seriously,” he said.

Nominations for this year’s InDaily’s 40 Under 40 are now open.

An assessment panel representing the South Australian business community will judge the nominees against a selection criteria based on their impact within a business, industry or community and how they push the boundaries to go above and beyond the norm.

The awards will then be held at the safest time and place possible.

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