Healthcare at the community’s fingertips
Published at: 12 Jun 2020
WHILE GOULBURN VALLEY HEALTH ALREADY USED TELEHEALTH TO CONSULT WITH SOME PATIENTS, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC SAW AN ACCELERATION OF OTHER SPECIALISED SERVICES MOVING INTO TELEHEALTH WHICH MEANT MORE PATIENTS COULD RECEIVE HEALTHCARE IN THE COMFORT OF THEIR OWN HOMES.
Telehealth consultation is being used across a variety of specialities at GV Health, after telehealth appointments ramped up due to COVID-19.
GV Health’s Clinical Operations executive director Donna Sherringham explained what telehealth was.
“Telehealth is an appointment with a healthcare professional and it can be done via a variety of mediums including telephone or a video conference call,” she said.
Ms Sherringham said GV Health had already been actively reviewing and looking into different clinical appointments that could be conducted via telehealth.
“We had a project under way but because of COVID-19 that project was accelerated,” she said.
This was reiterated by GV Health’s Specialist Consulting Suite nurse unit manager Helen Pettifer.
“COVID-19 has really helped with the development of telehealth,” she said.
“We have moved ahead in a couple of months doing something that could have taken a couple of years.”
Ms Pettifer said they had previously used telehealth to consult with specialists in Melbourne.
“We were conducting telehealth appointments with patients here in Shepparton and specialists in Melbourne,” she said.
“But now we’re undertaking appointments with specialists here while patients are in their home.’’
Ms Pettifer and Ms Sherringham said there were some appointments that needed to be conducted face-to-face, but telehealth was the way of the future.
“It also depends on the patient’s ability,” Ms Pettifer said.
“You just need a smartphone, but it is often easier for some of our elderly patients to simply use a telephone.”
Ms Sherringham said the increase in telehealth appointments had resulted in improved attendance numbers.
“We’re getting really good feedback from patients that telehealth has suited their lifestyle,” she said.
Ms Pettifer said many patients appreciated the convenience of telehealth.
“Patients do not need to come in and find a park,” she said.
“Sometimes people have appointments at their work where they can just step out for a few moments.
“There have been big benefits for patients.”
Ms Sherringham said there were other virtual ways of consulting with patients being explored at GV Health.
“We recently ran our antenatal education classes via live-streaming so there was a forum to continue that education,” she said.
“So, we’re using a variety of different methods to continue our service delivery.”
Ms Sherringham said GV Health would continue to use telehealth when appropriate into the future.
She also highlighted the fact that telehealth appointments resulted in reduced travel time for specialists, meaning they could see more patients.
“If we can continue to treat people this way, we can be more effective.”
Ms Sherringham said it was not only GV Health who benefited from the project, also facilitating telehealth clinics for other health services in the region.