DIRECT SERVICE: Cancer Care Nurse, Karen Brown outside St George Hospital who uses Teleheath services with her palliative care and oncology patients.
DIRECT SERVICE: Cancer Care Nurse, Karen Brown outside St George Hospital who uses Teleheath services with her palliative care and oncology patients. contributed

Teleheath improving health care in Southwest

TELEHEATH has been making health care more accessible across the south west by delivering services direct into rural homes, saving residents the trouble of travelling to the hospital or elsewhere for the service.

With the south west's first telehealth link established at St George Hospital in mid-2005, St George Cancer Care Nurse Karen Brown has been using an iPad to link palliative care and oncology patients with specialist consultations from the comfort of their own home.

"For some of my clients, having to leave home and travel into the hospital to access a telehealth consultation can be pretty exhausting,” she said.

"I started using the iPad to help a palliative care patient access their specialist consultation without leaving home and it was so easy and convenient for the patient. I've now started to use it for my oncology patients.

"As well as often being exhausting for my clients to leave home to come to the hospital for their consultation, it can often be practically difficult as there is no public transport here and they must rely on someone driving them in, which may not always be possible.

By using high definition cameras to link medical specialists and other clinicians with patients in real time appointments through video-conferencing, South West HHS Telehealth Services Clinical Nurse Consultant Jodie Turvey said telehealth was changing the face of health service delivery in rural areas like the South West.

"Telehealth is really opening up a whole new world for health care in regional and remote areas like the South West by providing specialist care without the need for travel,'' Ms Turvey said.

"That's hundreds of people throughout the south west who won't have to travel outside our region, or too far away from home, when a telehealth consultation or follow-up may be clinically appropriate for them.

"Patients can see and talk to a health professional without leaving the comfort of family and the familiarity of their home town. That's a massive saving in time, convenience and cost.

Ms Turvey said the word about the convenience of telehealth was getting around and the health service was finding more and more people throughout the south west were asking if they could have their consultations that way.

All 17 health facilities in the south west now are telehealth-enabled and telehealth services currently are offered in more than 40 different disciplines across the region.


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