Dis-Chem Pharmacies has broadened its primary healthcare offering with the introduction of Clinic Connect – a nurse-led primary healthcare service that combines Dis-Chem’s existing clinic offering with video calls with doctors.
Upweighting the current clinic offering with access to doctors is one further step in creating greater access to medical treatment. A nurse obtains a full medical history and conducts a clinical examination. If necessary, this is followed by a video consultation with a doctor. Additional tests or examinations may be performed, under the doctor’s guidance. The doctor provides any required documents, for example a sick note or prescription. Then the patient can immediately receive his or her medication from the in-store dispensary.
Apart from saving time and money for patients, this offering also allows cost-effective access to healthcare and it is hoped it will reduce some of the burden on the national public health infrastructure and provide a cost-effective option for patients who may not be able to afford private healthcare. Currently approximately 70 000 patients use Dis-Chem clinics each month with 42% of these accessing video consultations.
According to Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s National Clinic Manager, nurse-led healthcare is fundamental to primary healthcare market. South Africa’s unequitable healthcare system has resulted in prohibitive costs making private health care too expensive for most, yet the public healthcare system is overburdened and under-resourced resulting in delayed or inadequate treatment.
“Fixing primary health care is crucial to making South Africans healthier, yet access has long been an issue. What most consumers don’t realise is the crucial role nurses can play in diagnosing the undiagnosed. As a country we are faced with escalating incidences of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity and related conditions. 51% of our patients are classified as obese or overweight and 34% are diagnosed with high or elevated blood pressure. Early intervention is crucial to obtaining the right treatment protocol and managing these conditions, and we’ve seen good results in this regard,” Kruger says.
Kruger says the primary reason for seeking medical care is hypertension. Followed by vaccines and immunisations, disorders of the urinary system, contraceptive management, acute upper respiratory tract infections, acute tonsillitis, and certain skin disorders.
Additionally the Dis-Chem clinics offer diabetic care and dietary advice; blood pressure monitoring; vitamin injections; glucose and cholesterol screenings and total lipogram screening; peak flow and nebulization; HIV screening, testing and counselling; wound care and a variety of female health assessments such as breast screening and pap smear testing.