Just how valuable is a 24 hour doctor to the local community?
All across Australia there are private practices that open their doors throughout all hours of the day and night, as well as those that extend themselves for house visits.
Whilst this type of service appeared to have been phased out, there are still some examples where this scheduling is accepted under certain conditions.
Either for young professionals hoping to earn valuable experience to semi-retired specialists who have their loyal list of patients to care for, this is a niche that continues to this day.
Let us open up a discussion about its merits, social attitudes and what challenges and opportunities present themselves in this unique industry.
Convenience For Patients in Need
Despite opinions to call 24 hour doctor or to drastically change their role within the medical community, there continues to be cases where their service is not only justified by warranted. For those patients who are bedridden, incapacitated or struggle to move without serious assistance or pain, they will see this option as one of core convenience. Transporting to an office or hospital is taken for granted for the overwhelming majority of citizens, but others are not so fortunate.
The Cost To Doctors and Patients
There is a general attitude from many members of the community who would look at 24 hour doctor as a needless expense where the rate is too high to justify its existence. The good news with the inclusion of Medicare and private health insurance providers is that these costs can be largely subsidised depending on the type of plan. The specialists themselves will have to pay for their transport and potentially the volume of patients they see given the time required between homes. They could be incurred on the patient’s end.
Pressures on Emergency Rooms
There are a few different angles that can be approached to look at the issue of 24 hour doctor, but there is no question that these services help to alleviate stresses placed on emergency rooms. These settings are well and truly the most understaffed and under pressure working spaces anywhere in the country and having a loophole that allows for patients to be seen away and off site from these premises really does help the public practice. Not only that, but those individuals who leave their ailment untreated when at home will likely end up in emergency care in a worse state than they would have been otherwise.
Preference For Wealthy Citizens?
Given the inflated fees that can be charged by 24 hour doctor, there is the risk that this type of practice becomes a preference for the wealthy. Seen perhaps as a degree of concierge medicine where upper class homeowners can enjoy the luxury of a home visit to bypass a practice, there is a legitimate fear that the lines between public health providers and private practitioners becomes blurred. It then could dangerously fall into a commoditized system where wealthy users on an app can make their requests on basic whims and checkups.
There are different types of time pressures that are at play with 24 hour doctor and this will shape how they go about their practice in general. Those that will struggle to travel between premises will likely open up their office after hours to cater to that need. Others could be stretched to see someone at one end of the city to the other or to book them in as soon as possible.
The value of operating 24 hour doctor are completely subjective and dependent on the individual who is examining their options. If there is suitable private health insurance coverage and the logistics make sense for someone to see an experienced and reliable practitioner, then there should be no debate about the merits of the service. Each community in the country is unique and these operating conditions will be dependent on lawmakers, private institutions and the people themselves who will dictate their existence via the open marketplace.