Live chat a lifesaver

Lorenzo KaisaraLocal Doctors’ online live chat service has saved lives during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown, according to Total Healthcare’s* community liaison manager Lorenzo Kaisara.

The live chat initiative on the Local Doctors’ website was an early response to patient enquiry after several clinics had to close under Level 4. Now it looks like live chat is here to stay for a while yet. 

“The whole lockdown situation has left people in our community uncertain about where to go to obtain information and access healthcare,” Lorenzo says.

Through live chat, Lorenzo – with the support of Tāmaki Health’s integrated care coordinator Fonoiofu Fale – has been able to provide people with reassurance and direct them to the right services. Lorenzo and his team also deal with enquiries that come through the Local Doctors and Tāmaki Health Facebook pages.

For Lorenzo, that has meant spending up to seven hours a day responding to the needs of upwards of 30 or 40 patients. 

Range of needs requested

“I have had to organise urgent prescriptions for patients who did not know where to go and I have arranged late evening doctor consults for others with significant health issues that needed immediate attention,” he says. 

Daily enquiries from patients run the gamut from where to go for flu jabs to contraception needs to mental health concerns. 

“I have been referring people to the wide range of services available, not just the ones offered within our PHO, though we provide excellent wellness support for people with any type of mental health concern.”

There have also been lots of enquiries about where people can go to be tested for COVID-19.

“We run three testing sites, in Māngere, St Luke’s and Henderson, but sometimes we direct people to testing units offered in other areas if they are closer at hand.

“It’s not just about us, it’s about our community and making sure people have the best access to services that meet their needs.”

One more positive aspect of the live chat service is that patient enrolments have also increased within the PHO. 

Lorenzo Kaisara has a background in health promotion and prior to joining Total Healthcare in mid 2019, he was Pacific community coordinator for Counties Manukau DHB’s bowel screening programme. Lorenzo sees much of his role as community outreach and he sits on 25 boards, advisory groups, community networks and business associations that help him to identify the health and social needs of the PHO’s diverse communities. Lorenzo also produces a regular community health e-newsletter and co-hosts a weekly radio programme on health for the Pasifika community. 

*Total Healthcare PHO contracts Tāmaki Health as its management services organisation. Tāmaki Health, in turn, contracts medical providers through Local Doctors’ clinics to deliver the services required in the PHO DHB contracts.