A recent patient survey into the use of Emergency Telehealth Service has generated outstanding feedback for the high-definition videoconferencing service.
Patients said Telehealth, which is used to link people in rural and remote areas to a range of clinicians in the State’s major hospitals and health services, saves time and money and is far more convenient than city visits.
Local Member Terry Waldron MLA said more than 15,000 country patients had used the Telehealth Service for outpatient appointments in the past year and the service was continuing to grow as people heard how convenient it was.
“It makes a big difference when regional and remote patients are able to see their specialist via videoconference from their local hospital, and not have to make arrangements to leave family and work, travel for hours, and find accommodation,” Mr Waldron said.
“The overwhelming feedback was that patients who attended an appointment via Telehealth were very happy with the ease and quality of the service.
“It is clear that Telehealth staff at the regional health services are seen by regional patients as professional and supportive, and that using the Telehealth Service is far better than having to travel to the city or a regional centre.”
Almost all patients said the service was as effective as a face-to-face appointment and that speaking with their specialist from a regional site saved them time and money.
Katanning resident Louise Hook said she was relieved when told by her local GP that her then three-year-old Willow (now four) could get help with her sinus issues by seeing an Ear Nose and Throat specialist.
Ms Hook was even more pleased when told she did not have to make the 600km round-trip to take Willow to Princess Margaret Hospital and instead could attend the appointment at Katanning Health Service, using Telehealth.
“It was a huge relief to have the appointment by Telehealth as I would have had to take at least a day off work – for an appointment that only lasted 10 minutes,” she said.
Ms Hook said that she found the quality of the high-definition screen to be “amazing” and that she could see the Telehealth Service was making a huge difference to local people.
“The doctors were clear and informative and made Willow at ease, which is good considering she was only three-years old,” she said.
“The Katanning Health Service staff member used a camera to view her tonsils, so we could show the doctor in Perth.”
Ms Hook said “this was much less stress for everyone”.
Nationals WA candidate for Roe Peter Rundle, who is also a Katanning resident, said the expansion of Telehealth was just one example of the State Government’s significant investment in regional health care through Royalties for Regions.
“The response that 99 per cent of those surveyed would recommend the Telehealth Service is a pretty clear indication of the success of this investment,” Mr Rundle said.
In the 2015-16, there were almost 33,500 occasions of clinical service delivered by Telehealth. This comprises more than 16,500 emergency treatments, more than 5000 mental health appointments and almost 12,000 outpatient treatments.
Royalties for Regions has invested $31 million into Telehealth, as part of the $500 million Southern Inland Health Initiative. For more information, please visit wacountry.health.wa.gov.au/southerninland.