26 March 2015, Written by Jenna Rathbone


WITH more than 1500 sick Gold Coasters calling National Home Doctor Service (NHD) each week, the business has expanded to meet growing demand for after-hours medical care.

NHD has taken a three-year lease on a new warehouse premises in Arundel to accommodate medical provisions and its workforce, which has grown to include 35 doctors and 15 additional staff.

Formerly Medcall - a locally run business that had been operating on the Gold Coast for 15 years - NHD acquired the network of after-hours doctors in May 2014 and has grown at more than 10 per cent a year.

Ben Keneally, CEO of NHD, describes the Gold Coast as a growing and thriving market to do business and says although Gold Coasters may believe after-hours house calls by doctors are a thing of the past, in reality they are a very commonly used service across most of Australia.

"After-hours home visits are a great alternative for anyone who needs to see a doctor when their GP is closed, but their condition is not serious enough to go to the emergency department," Keneally says.

"We are particularly used by parents of young children and the elderly, and are used by people with mobility challenges who lack access to transport."

Keneally says evidence suggests that hospitals in areas such as the Gold Coast get a lower number of patients with "triage category four and five presentations", which are less urgent, because of the strength of mobile doctor services.

Doctors employed with NHD are equipped and carry a range of medications, such as common antibiotics, so treatment can often begin immediately.

"Our doctors are there to provide service to episodic illnesses so they can provide relief from symptoms such as nausea, gastro and pain and they can review symptoms and decide whether a patient needs further attention," says Keneally.

Keneally says awareness is the main challenge in generating more business and says people often think an after-hours, bulk-billed home visit is too good to be true.

"We want to build awareness that it is a service that is actually appropriate for patients to use and it puts less burden on the taxpayer than going to a hospital emergency room for a minor illness," he says.

"And it is much better to be waiting in the comfort, safety and security of your own home - it is a much healthier place than a hospital waiting room."

On average, NHD reaches clients between one and two hours of them booking a call-out.  

Following the doctor home visit, NHD provides an electronic report to the patient's regular GP by 8am the following day, ensuring continuity of care.

NHD covers Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, Shepparton, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Adelaide and Canberra.

The new headquarters on the Gold Coast is located at 1/14 Ivan Street at Arundel.

Marius von Zeppelin of LJ Hooker Commercial Gold Coast, who negotiated the lease with NHD, says it is a one-of-a-kind modern security complex.

"The tenant mix consists of accountants, aircraft engineers, computer engineers and now National Home Doctor Service."

Picture: Michelle Fraser National Home Doctor Operations Manager and Marius von Zeppelin Retail Leasing Manager, LJ Hooker Commercial Gold Coast.

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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