Channel Magazine: Congratulations on your exciting new launch for online specialist clinic for children on the North Shore! Can you tell us the story behind your new service, KIDZDOCTOR?
Dr Halima Maulidi: Thank you Liz, and yes of course! KIDZDOCTOR is a new, fully online paediatric specialist service that I founded. Having worked in the public hospital system for over 22 years, I have gained considerable knowledge and valuable insight as an experienced paediatrician. It is important to me to have a platform to share my knowledge with the communities around me in the most accessible way possible.
CM: What triggered this new concept?
Dr HM: While working in the public sector, I often met families who struggled to find or access private paediatricians causing them a lot of stress. Appointments were also challenging for some families who had to travel long distances, often having to bring other children along too. The issue resonated with me to such a degree that I started to make inquiries into opening a specialist clinic on the Shore. As you can imagine it was challenging to open a physical practice during lockdown, so the idea of a virtual clinic was born. There is significant potential in the field of telemedicine and I am extremely excited about this new venture.
CM: What is unique about KIDZDOCTOR ?
Dr HM: The appointments offered are just like any other specialist appointment, except families will be interacting with me via phone or video from the comfort of their home, comfortably fitting the appointment into their busy lives. This allows families living in geographically distant areas to access specialist care. Although I recommend GP referrals, I accept self-referrals, further reducing barriers to getting specialist advice. KIDZDOCTOR is committed to exploring and adopting technological and medical advances that will help drive further improvements to virtual health care delivery. KIDZDOCTOR will support GPs with effortless access to specialist support with the potential to incorporate joint consultations.
CM: I'm interested to know more about the idea of 'telehealth'. Can you explain what it is and why it's becoming more popular?
Dr HM: The NZ Telehealth Forum defines telehealth as ‘health care delivered using digital technology where participants may be separated by time and/or distance’. In more simple terms, I would define telehealth as healthcare conducted in a virtual space. Modern families are technologically driven and do not hesitate to incorporate innovation into their lives. Almost everyone has access to a smart phone, tablet or computer. The increased use of telemedicine during the various COVID-19 lockdowns showed us that alternative models of care can benefit patients and support health care providers in providing health care. This move to telehealth during lockdowns resulted in increased uptake and accelerated innovation in this field. After the first lockdown, a nationwide sample of GP practices identified several benefits of telehealth, with a high level of patient satisfaction and general acceptance that this will form part of the fabric of medical service provision in future. In published research, respondents mentioned the convenience of telehealth consultations in terms of saving time and money, reducing stress, travel and disruption to employment as being some of the key reasons for wanting to continue using telehealth in the future. Being online, families can access the service wherever they may be, including remote rural areas or overseas. Additionally, with concerns around the increase in the spread of COVID-19, virtual consultations will provide reassurance to those concerned about exposing themselves to potential infection.
CM: Can you tell us a little more about who you are and your background?
Dr HM: Sure! I was born in Zanzibar, an island in the Indian Ocean that is part of Tanzania. My maternal grandfather was a physician, and I would often sit at his consulting desk looking at medical textbooks as a child. This sparked an early passion and a thirst for medical knowledge and a desire to help people. Moving on a few years, I completed my primary medical degree in Tanzania, then undertook my postgraduate and specialist training in the UK and Canada. Eleven years ago, I moved to New Zealand to work at North Shore Hospital, and 'landed' in Milford, as I did not want a long commute to work. It was great to be able to walk or ride my bike to the hospital. My husband and I have remained in Milford ever since – we really do love it here! One of my favourite things is walking Milford Beach but coming from an island, I love anything to do with water including scuba diving, surfing and sailing.
CM: What other passions do you have that relate to your professional career?
Dr HM: That's easy – teaching, mentoring, and learning! I plan to incorporate teaching in my services portfolio by creating an educational YouTube channel where people can log in and post questions for potential topics. I am also looking forward to writing a monthly column for Channel magazine from April 2022. I am a bit of a nerd and love learning new things and taking on new challenges! As a paediatrician, I am deeply aware of and passionate about the impact of a child’s early life on their future health. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to use my expertise to support families during this significant period.
CM: What are the conditions that are suitable for telehealth?
Dr HM: By its nature, telehealth is suited to conditions where a full examination is not required. It is vital to stress that it is not suitable for emergency situations. There are several companies who are making advances in telemedicine options with remote monitoring, video and assessment which I hope to incorporate in future. In medicine, the most important part of making a diagnosis is the history. I will be using validated questionnaires for information gathering prior to the appointment, so time can be used more constructively during the appointment. This means that most of the common childhood conditions such as allergies, feeding issues, developmental concerns, behavioural issues including mild anxiety, sleep disturbances, continence issues, medication management, second opinions any many more are suited for telehealth. Having said that, there will be instances whereby I will have to use my professional opinion as to the suitability of a telehealth consultation to ensure that the best and most appropriate care is provided to your child. If I believe a different practitioner may be best suited for your child, I will be delighted to recommend an appropriate alternative provider.
CM: What services does KIDZDOCTOR offer?
Dr HM: KIDZDOCTOR serves children aged between 0-15 years.
CM: How accessible will KIDZDOCTOR be?
Dr HM: KIDZDOCTOR will be active Monday to Friday during office hours between 9am to 5pm. Special appointments can be arranged on Saturday mornings to accommodate working families and to minimise children’s time off school. I welcome any questions people may have. Queries can be sent via the form on my website or via phone. If you would like to book a consultation, please do not hesitate to contact me.
KIDZDOCTOR is excited to be part of the telemedicine field and is committed to expanding the level of health care service options available to families on the North Shore and beyond. KIDZDOCTOR will go live in March 2022.
Channel thanks you and wishes you every success, Dr Halima!