Goodbye, ‘Dr. Google’: a definitive guide to the best online health services

5 min

One of the few silver linings from the Covid-19 pandemic has been the strengthening of non-traditional healthcare options — such as Telehealth, e-scripts and online services — which can assist people who are unable or unwilling to visit medical professionals face-to-face.

As the pandemic progressed, more and more people turned to Telehealth in Australia — between March 13, 2020, and July 31 2022, 118.2 million telehealth services were delivered to 18 million patients.  


So, what is Telehealth? It is an online service that helps deliver medical care over the phone or via a video call. This can include diagnosis, treatment and prevention of medical issues.

And it appears it’s here to stay, too, with an expanded Telehealth service becoming an ongoing part of Medicare on January 1, 2022. 

How these modern options can break down health barriers

Men sometimes fail to act on health concerns due to the barriers they place in front of themselves, including denial (“there’s nothing wrong with me”), delay (“I’ll battle my way through it”), how (“what are the questions I need to ask?”) and concerns about privacy and trust. 

Healthy Male CEO Simon von Saldern says programs like Telehealth, e-scripts and Nurse on Call can play important roles in removing the barriers some men struggle with when it comes to their health.

“Guys are very good at saying to themselves, ‘oh, I’ve got a cough, it’s been going on for three weeks, and it hasn’t gone away, but it can wait.’ Then after five weeks, they think, ‘OK, I’ll go and see a doctor’, but they should’ve gone weeks ago,”

– Simon von Saldern, Healthy Male CEO

he says, “It is important to start building a relationship with your GP and other medical professionals, and that can start with Telehealth — you’re never going to get younger, so you’re going to rely on these people and these clinics more and more. So why not start with a particular doctor or a particular clinic? You might not even go there — you can just use them for Telehealth for now, but at least they’ve got all your records in the one spot.

“Because then when something happens, you don’t have to stress about ‘where do I go?’ or ‘what do I do’? 

“It can be as simple as picking the clinic you drive past every day in your local area. Or ask a mate who they use, who their family uses, or use which doctor your partner uses. It doesn’t have to be the same doctor, but perhaps you could go to the same clinic.

“Things like Telehealth or using e-scripts are really helpful if you can’t, or don’t want to, go there face-to-face.

“Today, there are more options and less roadblocks to staying healthy in Australia.”

Is it time to say goodbye to ‘Dr Google’?

Another ever-present part of the digital health puzzle is people doing their own research before booking in to see a health professional. 

This phenomenon of ‘Dr Google’ can actually prevent men from getting the help they truly need, said Mr von Saldern.

“A lot of things have similar symptoms — for example, a guy could be really hurting when he goes to the toilet. He could have kidney stones or a urinary tract infection or a bunch of other things. And you’re not going to know what it is unless you go and get some tests.  

“Dr. Google’s not going to be helpful.”

Mr von Saldern said if people were determined to research health issues online, they should go directly to trusted, official and specialised sources of information. 

“Be careful where you get your information from; if you suddenly become worried about your risk of having a stroke, you should go to somewhere like the Stroke Foundation that actually has the proper evidence and has the proper professionals. And if you’re worried about your heart health, you go to the Heart Foundation site.”

Mr von Saldern added men should be wary of emerging digital health platforms that target men who may be battling sensitive or uncomfortable issues like sexual difficulties. Just because an online or digital health service allows you to avoid some embarrassment and may even send medications to your door, that doesn’t mean it’s your best option. Do what’s best for you and your health for the long term, not the quick fix.

Other valuable online health services in Australia

  • Health Direct Australia (the national public health information service)
  • Beyond Blue (a national, independent not-for-profit working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety, and related substance misuse disorders in Australia)
  • MensLine (an Australian telephone and online support, information and referral service for men with family and relationship concerns)
  • Lifeline (a national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour support and suicide prevention services)
  • Allied Health Professionals Australia (a service that provides essential care for people of all ages, including children, older people, people with chronic illnesses or mental ill-health and those experiencing disability)
  • Spanner in the Works (a men’s health initiative providing men with a service and maintenance schedule for their bodies and some key health messages in a way that is easy to understand and achieve)
  • Healthy Male (a national not-for-profit working towards a vision of generations of healthy Australian men. For the latest news and information, you can subscribe to our newsletters and our twice-yearly The Male magazine or contact us directly here)
  • Find a Doctor (an online tool to help connect anyone to a GP and/or medical specialists).


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