It’s really embarrassing for the founder of a site such as 1stavailable.com.au to find myself in the situation I found myself in back in April. My one year old daughter Madeleine came down suddenly with a mystery illness that my wife and I could not diagnose. She was irritable, would not sleep and crying constantly. We monitored her all night and tried to get her to drink water but she was not interested. As the night progressed we noticed the early symptoms of dehydration. As healthcare professionals, we knew how quickly and how serious dehydration can become and being concerned new parents we needed to do something.
Finding a GP or medical service open at 4.30 a.m. is not an easy task. We looked through the traditional methods of print and online listings and eventually found ourselves at the Tweed Heads Hospital at 6.00am. We sat in the ER and luckily as it was in the early hours of a weekday, only had to wait about 20 minutes. The doctors could not diagnose her and we eventually went home with reassurance to come back at any time if Madeleine’s condition worsened. Serendipitously, I had an appointment already booked with my local GP later that same day and we managed to get him to also see Madeleine at the same time. His diagnosis – Hand, Foot and Mouth disease, a self-limiting virus common in young children. Madeleine improved and then passed the virus to both my wife and I.
It is times like this that remind me why I founded 1stavailable.com.au and what makes me so passionate about what we do. Many people ask me, “Dr. Luu why did you give up dentistry to pursue a venture such as 1stAvailable?” My answer is always the same “Healthcare is a need, its not a want like many other things in our lives, and it should never be more difficult to meet a need than to satisfy a want”. Unfortunately in our modern society this is not always true. Current methods of accessing healthcare appointments, via phone or in person are frustrating at the best of times and futile at the worst.
In the healthcare industry there exists a perceived division that separates practitioners from patients. Trends in mHealth (mobile device aided healthcare) all indicate that patients see more value in mHealth than practitioners.
Even though I am a healthcare practitioner, sometimes I find myself wearing the other shoe and become a patient, like that night in April. As a busy professional, finding help when I needed it, at a time suitable to me, was always a difficult task. I can only imagine the frustration my patients felt when they tried to access me at my busiest times of the year. Improving access to healthcare is a need, and a big problem to solve. So lets all work together to make it easier.
Dr Rick Luu, Non-Executive Director and Founder