A new strategy to improve and expand telehealth services across the South Island has been agreed by the five South Island DHBs.
“Technology is at a level now where, other than a physical presence, there is very little difference between a virtual consultation and a face-to-face appointment,” explains Dr Saxon Connor, a specialist surgeon at Christchurch Hospital.“
Before a consultation, all the assessments have been done so the meeting is about the conversation. In my experience, a nurse or GP is always present with the patient, so I am comfortable that the patient is being supported.”
Smart device technology is already being used across a wide range of services in the South Island to connect clinicians and their patients who are not in the same physical location. Benefits for patients include faster access to care, shorter wait times and reduced travel. Clinicians spend less time traveling and have greater control over scheduling. Telehealth also supports a closer working relationship between specialists and primary care, and a more connected South Island health system that better meets the needs of our community.
The new South Island strategy aims to increase the availability and use of telehealth to the point where it is offered to everyone who could benefit from it. The strategy focuses on six key areas:
- technology and infrastructure
- staff training and change management
- embedding into clinical practice
- monitoring and evaluation.
The first step is to appoint a regionally funded telehealth project manager.South Island examples of telehealth in action
- Ketogenic dietary therapy
- GP consultations
- Telemedicine clinic for woundcare
- Paediatric diabetes
- Speech language therapy (page 20)