Karori Medical Centre uses a website allowing patients to get advice and check records online
Emailing a doctor or viewing medical records online may seem like a foreign concept for many, but it's a reality for Karori Medical Centre patients.
New website Manage My Health, dubbed a "patient portal", is being offered to registered patients.
Patients can access lab results, make appointments, request repeat prescriptions, view doctors notes' and email their doctor via the site.
Karori Medical Centre is New Zealand's largest suburb, having a patient roll of 14,000, with 6500 of those activating their own Manage My Health account.
Charles Stewart, a long time patient of the Karori Medical Centre, has been using the portal for 2½ years.
The 85-year-old says it is easy to use.
"I have a more personal relationship with my doctor, even though he is very busy," Stewart says.
The biggest advantage for Stewart is his ability to book appointments on his iPad or computer.
"By the time I take my finger off the button I have a confirmation response," he says.
More than 50 per cent of the practice's patients are aged over 25 and 10 per cent are over 65.
Stewart says the website is helpful for his daughter overseas.
"By the time I'm home from the appointment, she can have read the doctors notes."
Peter Moodie, a doctor who has been at the practice for more than 30 years, has been a champion behind the site since it was introduced to New Zealand medical centres five years ago.
"Everything is technology, why not use it for medical practices," he says.
About 500 patients were using the site in May, 2014, in comparison with about 6500 now.
The site is more time-efficient for doctors and patients, and decreases the administration work for staff.
Another draw factor for the website is its accessibility and immediate contact for patients overseas.
"Patients can access their records and lists of previous medicines, as well as email me any questions if they run into health problems," Moodie says.
Health minister Jonathan Coleman is giving New Zealand a $3 million boost for patient's access to portals.
"Portals are convenient, secure and real time savers for both the patient and staff at their general practice," he says.
"These secure online sites are the health equivalent to online banking."
MANAGE MY HEALTH
* New online maps can show whether a GP offers a patient portal. Visit patientportals.co.nz for details.