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Feel sick and need a medical certificate? There’s an app for that too

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Picture it: it’s a grey Tuesday afternoon, you’re at work, and start to feel a little off.

You push through to the evening and decide to go to bed early hoping that you’re just rundown and will feel better in the morning.

Come Wednesday morning, you’re not better. In fact, you’re much worse. It’s an all-too-familiar scene, and now a little worrisome in the age of COVID-19.

Lying in bed, staring at your phone, you consider your next move. It might be to the kitchen for a glass of water, or the medicine cabinet for paracetamol, or the nearest COVID-19 testing clinic. Either way, you’ll need a medical certificate; a day at work—even from your home office—is the last thing on your mind.

A certificate could be issued by a GP, but an appointment may not be available until Thursday, and will incur a sizeable fee if not bulk billed. Ugh. It’s enough to make your throbbing headache throb harder.

Staring back at your phone, you wonder if there’s a better way…

Enter Avinash Vazirani, a young Canberran entrepreneur. Originally from Melbourne and the only son of migrants from Mumbai, he graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Pharmacy with Honours in 2011.

From modest beginnings in 2017, Avinash’s telehealth app ‘Sicky’ is now thriving, has won business awards, and is attracting significant attention from potential investors.

“Since graduating, I’ve worked across various areas of healthcare and pharmacy, but my passion is innovation in the digital healthcare space,” says Avinash. “Sicky brings it all together.”

Sicky is an app that enables pharmacists registered with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to take video calls from patients and issue work certificates that are recognised under the Fair Work Act 2009.

During a consultation, the pharmacist determines the patient’s fitness for work through a series of questions; should they be satisfied the patient is unfit for work, a medical certificate can be generated on the spot and e-mailed for a period of up to two days.

Avinash acknowledges that Sicky is not a novel or revolutionary idea. “But the major difference is that it provides an ‘all-in-one’ electronic platform by which medical certificates can be easily written by pharmacists and readily distributed to patients,” he says. Smiling, he adds: “In the modern day, convenience is key.”

Avinash Vazirani.

The Australian public has access to telehealth consultations as part of the Government’s initiative to promote the use of technology and digital health. Sicky aligns with the Government’s agenda of realising that technology has a major part to play in the future of healthcare.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Patient Experiences Survey 2018-19, the proportion of people waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment was 18.8%.

“Sicky aims to address the needs of overburdened GPs and alleviate the need for face-to-face consultations when potentially unnecessary,” adds Avinash.

Apps such as Sicky help promote an integrative delivery of healthcare through increased pharmacist involvement and the implementation of telehealth services.

“But Sicky goes beyond just delivering medical certificates,” says Avinash. “Pharmacists are also able to triage consultations appropriately and refer to a GP as required, as well as recommend products and liaise with local pharmacies within their area.”

There is also the obvious convenience for patients’ self-isolating and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who drive for a face-to-face appointment with their GP, less travel reduces carbon emissions and congestion in metropolitan areas.

With conditions such as migraines, these can also limit a person’s ability to travel safely to see a healthcare professional. On the whole, apps like Sicky mean less time wasted documenting illnesses and more time recovering from them.

“Sicky differs from other apps by integrating videoconferencing capability within the app itself rather than relying on a callback service facilitated through an external platform like Skype,” explains Avinash. “To have it self-contained is a huge advantage to the patient.”

The cost of a Sicky medical certificate is $19.95.

“This is less than any typical GP consultation that is not bulk billed and less than medical certificates from pharmacies, which are usually $30 and still require travel,” says Avinash. “Should the patient not receive a certificate, there is no fee.”

Sicky is available for free download from sicky.com.au. It is also available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

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