WHEN news of Dr Sicknote first hit the media late last year, Australians immediately branded the online medical certificate issuer as the next best way to 'chuck a sickie.'
Despite this, creator Dr Sachin Patel has powered through the criticism to produce a business model that promotes a swifter return to work than the average GP-visiting rigmarole.
The Dr Sicknote platform allows people to contact a professional for medical certificates, repeat specialist referrals and carer's certificates, all without having to leave the couch.
Patel believes this level of convenience is what makes the service so conducive to a speedy recovery.
"If a person is suffering from a minor illness, and they need to drag themselves out of the house for an appointment when they are feeling dreadful, it takes half a day's recovery time out," says Patel.
"If we can do our bit to help people increase their available time by accessing essential services online, then that's a great thing."
Not only has Dr Sicknote been helping patients focus more on the mend, according to Patel it has also freed up consultation time for doctors who usually find themselves bogged down by non-essential care appointments.
"Doctors can often become frustrated when someone is sent by their employer to get a medical certificate or for referral paperwork that the patient should just be able to manage themselves," says Patel.
"This online service frees up doctors' appointments for more significant work."
While Dr Sicknote is just about as comprehensive as a traditional GP appointment, Patel agrees that there will always be a handful who will try to exploit the process.
However, he believes that genuine patients shouldn't be denied the service on the basis of such scarce dishonesty.
"I've dealt with tens of thousands of patients over the years and, in general, people are honest," says Patel.
"Those who want to take advantage of systems, whatever the system may be, will always find a way to do it, but that shouldn't mean the honest and decent majority are denied their options because of it."
Current significant user groups of Dr Sicknote include tertiary and high school students, business professionals and public sector workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers. There is an average of about 300 visits to the website per day.
In the coming months, Dr Sicknote plans to explore partnership opportunities with universities around the country and will continue to ride the word-of-mouth wave that has propelled the business so far.
Dr Sachin Patel was born in England after his father, a refugee living in Uganda, fled Africa during the reign of Idi Amin.
He completed his medical training in the UK before moving to Australia in 2008, where he has since established the Laurimar Medical and Mernda Village Medical centres before launching Dr Sicknote.
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