Interview: Zoë Callister-Hakewill, General Manager of Dr’s On Call


It’s National Telehealth Awareness Month and each week in October, we are asking an industry leaders about their thoughts on telehealth.

VISIONFLEX: Can you tell us about Dr’s On Call and the services you provide?

ZOË CALLISTER-HAKEWILL: Dr’s On Call is a mobile medical outreach service that provides around-the-clock, equitable and flexible access to essential bedside clinical care services to vulnerable and marginalised populations across aged care, palliative care, disability, and mental-health care environments.

With an ageing population, there is such a great need for revising the way that we deliver medical care to these vulnerable populations, and I plan on spearheading the policy change that needs to occur to facilitate this at local, state, and federal levels.

I see our medical services similarly expanding from local and regional areas to a national level, encompassing all areas of primary and allied healthcare. I see this occurring through the implementation of sound digital health contemporary technologies and evidence-based design research to transform the healthcare environments which enhance health and wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable Australian communities. Telehealth has a critical and central role in facilitating this.

What are your thoughts on the use of telehealth solutions to provide care to your clients and support the expansion of Dr’s On Call’s services?

Telehealth has become fundamental to shifting the way we approach care. It has increased accessibility to equitable and quality clinical care. This is something that we are true advocates of.

Dr’s On Call is on the precipice of rapid growth. We receive over 600 requests per week from patients for treatment and are regularly taking on new patients and facilities. We actively rely on digital resources to navigate through the ever-changing health landscape of providing care to the aged care environment. I continue to utilise digital resources to underscore my passion for promoting patient outcomes and engendering awareness in the aged care space.

I have implemented digital healthcare solutions to increase efficiency and accessibility to quality primary clinical care, which has facilitated expansion not only across the greater Sydney region but also into regional NSW. My continued commitment to education and support regarding telehealth has most certainly led to enhanced patient outcomes and allowed for improved clinical care to be provided by aged care staff to their residents.

Can you provide an example of some of the digital initiatives you have implemented at Dr’s On Call to promote the use of telehealth?

To improve telehealth delivery, I continually seek to identify and improve challenge points for staff/colleagues accessing our telehealth offering.

I have led extensive education and training with staff across more than 37 aged care facilities on a vast array of topics including but not limited to vaccination delivery and information, telehealth efficacy, procedures and etiquette, COVID-19 infection control and management using telehealth and other essential digital health technology topics.

These training sessions were aimed at alleviating anxieties and reframing digital health as a legitimate and reasonable means to deliver quality primary care across the aged care sector, as there were quite high levels of reluctance to begin with. To increase accessibility to these education and training programs, I converted the link into a QR code which I sent out to the aged care facilities we service. This increased rates of uptake of our telehealth services, allowing us to reach more vulnerable people requiring medical care.

What are your immediate telehealth goals?

I see leadership in the digital health space as fostering a sense of collaborative learning and inclusiveness both personally and vocationally and I am seeking to bring about social change through awareness.

My commitment to shared awareness is demonstrated through my continually active role in training the executive leadership teams of aged care providers, nursing staff, families, patients, and medical practitioners on telehealth etiquette, benefits and processes in order to facilitate uptake.

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