Irish digital healthcare provider VideoDoc is to give 374,000 students here access to free online GP consultations.
The agreement is part of a deal with the Union of Students in Ireland, and will run to the end of the academic year.
The service was announced as part of USI’s Healthy Living Week initiative, which is promoting health and wellbeing at 37 college campuses across Ireland.
"With the high cost of living and accommodation being the main factor in student poverty, our students can now rest assured that if they get sick they can save money on a GP visit with VideoDoc," USI president Michael Kerrigan said. "This no-cost service will help students, and save them money."
College students often have access to on-campus healthcare facilities, but Videodoc co-founder Mary O'Brien said there was often a waiting period to get an appointment.
VideoDoc was established in 2014 and offers online GP services in Ireland and the UK seven days a week. The service works through its app or the Videodoc website, eliminating the need for patients to leave their homes to see a doctor. The service usually costs €20 per appointment, but Videodoc has done a series of deals that see its services being offered by companies and as part of health insurance firms.
Among its partners are Vhi Healthcare, Beaumont Hospital, Wrkit and Clanwilliam Healthcare in Ireland.
“Our experience of general practice is that about 70 per cent of all GP visits can be treated online,” Ms O’Brien said. “Students who need to see a doctor but are far from their family GP, or too busy to attend a surgery between regular nine-to-five working hours can now log on from anywhere and be treated within minutes.”
Once the academic year ends, Ms O’Brien said VideoDoc would evaluate the service and its use, to see if changes were needed. Encouraging students to use the service was part of VideoDoc’s effort to change the perception on online healthcare facilities, and help it to become more commonplace, she added.
“We may look at expanding the range of services. We’ll see what demand there is from students.”