Procare HML

FAQ

About how the national telehealth services work
About diversity
About our workforce
About your privacy & access to data
About specific helplines
How to give us your feedback
 

About how the national telehealth services work

1. Who provides New Zealand's national helpline services?
Homecare Medical is the Ministry of Health’s partner in delivering an integrated, national telehealth service for New Zealand. Prior to 1 November 2015, the seven helplines now run by Homecare Medical were run by different organisations and did not integrate with each other.

2. What services make up the 24/7, free national telehealth service:

  • Healthline 0800 611 116 – registered nurse assess and provide advice 
  • Quitline 0800 778 778 – support for people wanting to quit smoking and stay smokefree 
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 and text 8681 – advice, information and support about drinking or other drug use
  • Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 and text 4202 – callers can talk through emotional and psychological issues with counsellors and via the National Depression Initiatives:
              Depression.org.nz – helping people find a way through depression
               The Lowdown and text 5626 – support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety 
               The Journal @ depression.org.nz – an online programme to help people learn skills to tackle depression


  • Gambling Helpline 0800 654 655 and text 8006 – support for those worried about gambling or the gambling of others 
  • Poisons advice for the public 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) – delivered through the National Poisons Centre
  • Immunisation advice 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466 863) – providing advice to the public (in partnership with the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC)) 
  • Ambulance secondary triage – clinical telephone assessment by registered nurses for low acuity 111 calls to St John and Wellington Free Ambulance
  • The Diver Emergency Service Hotline – advice and treatment of all diving related incidents, accidents or injuries, including the emergency management of decompression illness, 0800 4 DES 111 (0800 4337 111).

3. Who can access the helplines?
Anybody in New Zealand can access the helplines 24/7, free. 

4. What isn’t included in the national telehealth service?
The following ministry funded phone lines are excluded from the new telehealth services:

  • Immunisation advice for health professionals.
  • Hepatitis C Education.
  • Health Promotion and Support Services.
  • Ambulance Clinical Control Centres (111)
  • PlunketLine.  

5. Will my call be answered by someone in New Zealand or overseas?
Your call will always be answered in New Zealand.
 
6. Are all the helpline services 24/7?
Yes, either by telephone, text messaging or online.
 
7. Who funds the national telehealth service?
The national telehealth service is co-funded by the Ministry of Health, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and the Health Promotion Agency.  
 
8. How long is the contract with Homecare Medical?
Ten years.

9. What is the value of this contract?
The contract value over a 10-year term is $257.6 million, which is within the combined value of the individual contacts for the previous phone advice services.

10. How is Homecare Medical funded?
Homecare Medical is owned by ProCare and Pegasus Health, two of New Zealand’s largest primary health organisations.

Homecare Medical is funded by the Ministry of Health, ACC and the Health Promotion Agency to manage and enhance the national telehealth service of free, 24/7 health and mental health and addictions services. The details of that contract are available here.

It is a separate, social enterprise with an Innovation Fund to support continuous service improvement and development. This means any funding surplus over an agreed level is allocated to the fund to enhance digital healthcare in New Zealand. Organisations can make contributions to the fund to provide specific outcomes.

As well as the national telehealth service contract, Homecare Medical has contracts with PHOs and individual practices to provide GP out-of-hours services to over 600 general practices throughout New Zealand, so their patients’ calls are answered after-hours.

Surpluses from Homecare Medical contracts are reinvested to deliver more healthcare in the Auckland and Canterbury regions, by our parent organisations ProCare and Pegasus Health.

Both ProCare and Pegasus Health are organisations with Charitable Trust ownership – and are owned by the people of Auckland and Canterbury.

11. What is that margin and how much is the fund?
That’s commercially sensitive information.
 
12. Why?
 Making our investment plans publicly known may reduce our ability to negotiate the best possible price for services with commercial partners and suppliers.  
 
13. So is Homecare Medical a for-profit organisation? 
No.

14. What are the success factors that Homecare Medical aims for?
Delivering a high quality, well-performing service for all New Zealanders is a key focus for us. We are transparent about how we ‘perform’ and relevant statistics will be posted on our website. We want to ‘virtually’ support Kiwis to stay well and connect them seamlessly with care when they need it. Our mission is to deliver a national telehealth service that effectively meets the needs of New Zealanders and provides a platform for continuous care innovation and improvement. Learn more

15. What clinical decision support systems are used for Healthline?
Homecare Medical uses an international clinical decision support tool to manage all health triage calls. Odyssey Tele Assess ensures we deliver safe, effective clinical advice to callers and connect them with the most appropriate care.  Globally more than 25 million teleconsults take place annually using Odyssey in seven countries and seven languages.

16.How does the national telehealth service performance compare with the previous providers of these phonelines?
The simple answer is: we don’t know and there’s a good reason for that. These services have never been integrated before and their performance has never been measured in a comparable way. If one did try to compare, it would be like comparing apples with bananas.

17. How will Homecare Medical address cultural needs within New Zealand?
With the growing diversity of populations living in New Zealand, we are experiencing more cross-cultural interactions with people from different linguistic, cultural and religious backgrounds. To address these needs we have staff members who are representative of different populations, and to address issues related to English as a caller’s second language, our staff members have access to translation services.
 
18. What translation services are offered?
We use Language Line as our translation service, which includes te reo Māori.
 
19. What helplines are run specifically for Māori and Pasifika people?
We run the Maori Gambling Helpline, Māori Alcohol and Drug Helpline, Pasifika Gambling Helpline and Pasifika Alcohol and Drug Helpline.
 
20. Will I be able to talk to a Māori or Pacific mental health and addictions professional when I contact these helplines?
Yes, where possible. If your call is picked up straight away, you will talk to a Māori or Pacific mental health and addictions professional. If it isn’t answered straight away, your call will be transferred to another suitably qualified staff member, who will know that your call came from a Māori or Pasifika helpline. You can request a call back from a Māori or Pasifika professional.

About our workforce 

21. How many people are working on the helplines?
Homecare Medical now has more than 250 staff, including more than 90 work from home registered nurses. 

22. Where are staff located?
The main contact centres for the services are Auckland (Grafton), Wellington (Plimmer House), Christchurch (Bealey Avenue) and Dunedin (Princes St). We have a number of registered nurses working from home to support the Healthline service. The National Poisons Centre continues to operate out of Otago University.
 
23. Who are the technology companies supporting the national telehealth service?
We know that New Zealanders want solid companies with proven and extensive experience in health. We chose the technology partners on that basis:

  • Spark Digital provides the technology platform – the network and connectivity.
  • Valentia Technologies provides the health software that manages people’s records.
  • Advanced Health & Care provides the patient-centred clinical decision tool (Odyssey) that people taking the calls use to help assist them to evaluate needs and symptoms.
  • Interactive Intelligence supplies its Customer Interactive Centre (CIC) tool as the phone/web/social media/ call centre management part of the national telehealth service.
  • Accenture provides project and change management expertise. 

About your privacy & access to data

24. Does Homecare Medical have access to information about my previous calls?
Yes – we have details for all calls from 1 November 2015. Before that time other providers operated the helplines so we do not hold those records in our systems. However, if it is essential to access those records we can request it from the previous provider. Please understand this will take time to achieve. 

25. Do national telehealth service nurses or other staff have access to my GP health records – to help them give the right advice?
The national telehealth service contract doesn’t give Homecare Medical access to other health providers’ patient records. This matter is under consideration and, of course, if such access is granted it would need to comply with patient privacy requirements, and information technology linkages would need to be put in place.

Already in place are Government and regional initiatives aimed at improving people’s health outcomes by sharing their collected health information (such as allergies, prescribed medications, diagnoses, test results) to those health professionals involved in their care. HealthOne is an example of that.

26. Can I see my records/the information collected by the service?
Yes. You can ask for a copy of it by emailing: privacy@homecaremedical.co.nz or calling 09 375 7770.

27. What information about me do you keep in your records?
If you choose to identify yourself, the information collected will usually be your NHI number, name, age, gender, contact details, ethnicity, some medical history and your symptoms. Information about health services to be provided to you in the future, or your wishes about the future provision of health services, may also be recorded.

28. Is my health data held in New Zealand?
Yes it is.
 
29. Can I call a helpline and remain anonymous?
Yes, you can request that your interaction is partly or completely anonymous, eg, you may decide that your call to the Gambling Helpline is completely anonymous or that information on the call isn’t sent to your GP. You can also ask for details of who has accessed your record and ask for a justification for that.

There is one exception, however. If the person who takes your call believes after speaking to you that you are not safe and at risk of harm, they will contact appropriate services to intervene, even if you have requested anonymity. This is standard practice for people taking health related questions from the public. 

30. What arrangement does Homecare Medical have with Plunket?
We work very closely with Plunket. Currently, Plunket nurses can transfer your calls to a Healthline nurse if they decide your 0 to five-year-old child is sick. You don’t have to hang up and dial another line, but you will have to speak to a different nurse. In addition, PlunketLine nurses now have access to Homecare Medical’s Odyssey Tele Assess, a clinical decision support tool, to assist with their advice to you, reducing the need to transfer you to a HealthLine nurse. 

31. Am I able to provide feedback about my experience?
Yes, of course! We are committed to providing a quality service for all people using our services. Compliments and complaints, let us know what we are doing well, and where we may need to improve. We treat all constructive feedback as an opportunity to learn and to implement quality improvement processes.

Please contact us at: feedback@homecaremedical.co.nz
 
32. Who is accountable for any concerns or investigations?
We investigate any concerns thoroughly. If you have a clinical concern, a senior clinical person will review your call and the notes – there is a formal process for this. Regular auditing of calls and peer reviews are built into our service.

Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our advice and our service and the safety of the New Zealand public.

 
 
 
 

Contact Us

09 354 7774