Telehealth on the rise
The number of people in country WA using telehealth for medical care has trebled in the past four years, according to the WA Country Health Service.
WACHS strategy and reform chief operating officer Melissa Vernon said despite this increase, many could still benefit from the video-conferencing service.
“Each week, about 800 regional and outer-metropolitan patients receive medical care using videoconferencing — either for emergency or outpatient services,” she said.
“But with telehealth consultations available for a wide range of services in many rural and remote locations, there is huge scope for greater take-up.
“Telehealth is saving a lot of outpatients time and money, and is having a significant impact on reducing the stress associated with travel and time lost at work and with family.
“Our surveys tell us that most people who use telehealth have found it as effective as a consultation in the specialist’s surgery.”
Plastic and burns surgeon Fiona Wood said very few of her country patients had to travel to Perth to attend clinics these days because of telehealth services.
“Sometimes I see a patient in person, to decide whether we need to operate, but usually I can see them using videoconference, and we can direct nurses in regional health centres as to how they need to dress the patient’s wounds,” she said.
“So we are supporting the patient and also the local staff.”