Could a GP app ease codeine trouble?

A GP app could be the solution to an expected influx of patients seeking pain relief, its developer suggests

Christian Nehme, a medical scientist and former pharmacy assistant, is developing doctoroo, an app which allows patients to see a GP via their phone or other device.

doctoroo is currently being suggested as a solution “to ease the pain, unfamiliarity and inconvenience of travelling to a GP for a codeine script,” it said in a statement today.

“The app actually aligns with the goals of the TGA and RACGP by allowing doctors to diagnose patients and offer the best pain management for their situation. GPs may suggest codeine or an alternative pain management strategy—which helps to curb codeine addiction and misuse,” the statement says.

“Seeing the frustration of patients, especially with the recent rescheduling of codeine, truly drives us to deliver a solution that makes pain that much less uncomfortable to deal with,” says Mr Nehme.

Patients will be able to enter their pain symptoms and prescription requirements (including codeine) before a consultation for the GP to before the video consultation begins.

Online consultation services – such as Qoctor, which was formerly known as “Dr Sicknote” – have received criticism in the past, with RACGP president Dr Bastian Seidel saying of Qoctor that “the big risk with online services performed outside of the usual patient-doctor relationship is that they fragment care and do not provide continuous, comprehensive general practice care to patients”.

Mr Nehme says, however, that doctoroo will encourage patients to consult with their own GP, and that pharmacy is likely to be a prime location from which the app is used.

“We want it to continue the doctor-patient relationship, so you can actually speak to your own family doctor and continuance of care is still in place,” he told the AJP today.

“It’s more of a direct connection between patient and doctor, but the pharmacist would be the mediator in terms of facilitating the service within their pharmacy, as well as being able to do tests like blood pressure and so on.

“We want to minimise the effect of the whole [codeine] change for patients across the country, so it makes it easier in terms of getting the right pain management by speaking to a doctor, from a suitable convenient location such as at home, at work or at the pharmacy itself,” he says.

doctoroo is targeting patients who may be disproportionately affected by lack of access to GP services, such as those living in rural and remote areas, those who have difficulty leaving their home and those who are having trouble finding a regular GP.

The service will be privately billed and consultations will begin at $15 for a few minutes. Patients will be able to access medical certificates, referral letters and second opinions for most health services.

Mr Nehme says he hopes the app will be up and running in coming months.

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  1. Therese

    when will this be available?

    • doctoroo Australia

      Hi Therese, thanks for your interest!
      We’re working extremely hard to have the platform ready for you and the rest of Australia to use within a few months. You can easily sign up with basic details to our prelaunch on our website, and we’ll notify you as soon ad we launch. Until then, take care!
      ~ The doctoroo team

  2. Amandarose

    I don’t think an app is at all appropriate for pain meds.
    The pill yes,
    Ongoing basic scripts- antidepressants etc yes but pain needs a real live assessment

    • doctoroo Australia

      Hi Amandarose, thanks for your comment.
      We do agree that there are cases where an online assesment may not be accurate in diagnosing a condition. However, what we’re aiming to facilitate is a platform where doctors can provide the best course of treatment for their patient who may otherwise assume codeine is the required treatment. It would ofcourse be up to the discretion of individual doctors whether they prescribe any medication, including codeine. The whole idea is to get to see your own GP on the doctoroo platform, who already knows your medical history, and if you have had pain issues in the past, would likely know what medication works best for you. This will ofcourse help lower self-medication, misuse and addiction to medication, including codeine. Hope this helps Amandarose!

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