Telehealth enables patient-centred care

9 October 2019

Video-conferencing technology is enabling hundreds of clinical services across NSW Health to ‘see’ their patients remotely, reducing barriers to access and enhancing patient experience.

Clinicians across the state are connecting with their patients using eHealth NSW’s video-conferencing infrastructure, which its Conferencing Services team designed and supports.

This technology has proven to be effective across a wide variety of locations that patients find themselves in, including nursing homes, GP practices, in their own home or when they are out and about.

“The telehealth technology notifies clinicians by email and/or text when their patient enters a virtual waiting room, and connects them with patients on smartphones, tablets or PCs,“ said Neil Winter, Team Manager, Conferencing Services, eHealth NSW.

At Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, the technology is allowing its Tuberculosis (TB) Clinic to provide a patient-centred model of care for TB sufferers, who are required to see a healthcare worker every day in order to take their medication and be monitored for side effects.

“Telehealth has been an invaluable resource for our service, and video-calls with patients are now heavily integrated into our daily clinic activity,” said Clinical Nurse Consultant Kate Smith.

“Video-calls give TB patients better access to the specialist care they require, as for many sufferers the burden of an intense treatment regime hinders their daily commitments.“

Without video-calls, patients need to physically attend a health care service such as a hospital clinic, emergency department, GP surgery, pharmacy or have a nurse visit them at home.

Using the technology, patients can now be more flexible in choosing their time and space to have their consultation, which also increases privacy.

Video-calls give a larger number of patients more equal access to the specialised TB service, as well as helping the clinic to operate more efficiently by better utilising its clinicians’ time.

“Reducing the time spent offsite visiting patients in their homes, and maximizing the use of limited clinic resources, is particularly important for a service run by one nurse,” said Ms Smith.

The Aged Care Rapid Response Team at Royal North Shore is also using the service, provision of which is being led by eHealth NSW’s Edris Andreas and supported by Mr Winter and his team.

“Video allows us to see instantly whether a patient looks unwell, and we can gather a lot of valuable information from talking to them face-to-face on-screen and we hope to better determine which patients need to be seen more urgently,” said Dr James Hardy, Geriatrician, Royal North Shore Hospital.

The Conferencing Services team works closely with Telehealth Managers to support clinicians using telehealth services. Clinicians are encouraged to speak with their local Telehealth contact to establish a new service.

Looking ahead, a new virtual waiting room with even greater functionality and an easy-to-use web interface called MyVirtualCare is in development.

It is a collaboration between eHealth NSW’s Conference, Collaboration and Wireless (CCW) and Conferencing Services teams in conjunction with the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) and Telehealth Managers.

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