Sunday 20 August 2017

Now you can see a doctor when you visit post office

Mary O’Brien of VideoDoc shows Muriel McGuire how to use the first online GP postmaster service in Fogartys Quickpick and Post Office in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Mary O’Brien of VideoDoc shows Muriel McGuire how to use the first online GP postmaster service in Fogartys Quickpick and Post Office in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Now you can see the doctor while picking up your pension or posting a letter.

A pioneering new 'hub' is offering online consultation with doctors and other services from a local post office.

Postmaster Sean Fogarty was instrumental in establishing the country's first online medical consultation service at the Ballymore Eustace post office in Co Kildare.

The post office recently signed a deal with online medical consultants VideoDoc to provide a virtual doctor's office in the post office. While noting that "no online consultation can completely replace seeing a doctor in person", the new medical booth will allow those attending for "minor ailments or straight-forward consultations" access to a GP by video link.

The booth is situated in an extension to the post office called 'the hub' which also provides other services, such as internet access, photocopying and laminating services, and a coffee dock.

The hub is being offered on a trial basis, and if successful it will be rolled out at other post offices nationwide.

It typifies the kind of entrepreneurial spirit needed to save our post offices, according to the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU).

Ned O'Hara, IPU general secretary, said: "This first-ever postmaster-provided VideoDoc service is a very exciting initiative and demonstrates how a postmasters' role can be adapted and expanded in an increasingly technology- driven world."

Other initiatives, such as allowing post offices to issue driving licenses, are among "loads of things" that could be done to keep post offices viable, he said.

"In our view, An Post is going to have to be more agile," he said.

In the meantime, the IPU will be meeting with An Post officials tomorrow to discuss the future of its network of 1,147 post offices nationwide. It follows the announcement by An Post CEO David McRedmond last month that 265 rural post offices could close.

Irish Independent

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