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Queensland residents receive telehealth consultations

Tuesday, 18 April, 2017

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The convenience of telehealth is making consultations easier for patients in the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.

Outpatient consultations have nearly doubled over the past two years, with 799 telehealth consultations in this financial year alone.

Patients such as Barry Port, a former police tracker, are able to receive the medical attention they require without travelling long distances.

“I have regular consultations with the doctors by videoconference about every three months here in Coen,” Port said.

“It’s very easy talking to them through the TV and we always have a good chat. If it wasn’t for the videoconference, I would have to go to Cairns to see the doctor.

“I live very close to the health centre here in Coen, so it’s very easy for me to come here and have my appointment and then go back home.”

Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said patient-dedicated telehealth services were available at every health facility in the Torres and Cape.

“What it means for people like Mr Port is that they can have routine consultations with his specialists right here in Coen without having to travel all the way to Cairns for his appointments,” said Dick.

“Telehealth is delivering convenience and is saving thousands of Queenslanders like Mr Port a lot of time, effort and money each year.”

Telehealth uses high-definition cameras to link medical specialists and other clinicians with patients in real-time appointments through videoconferencing.

“Through videoconferencing, telehealth allows you to receive the same quality of care closer to home, reduces time away from home and makes it easier for family or friends to attend appointments with you,” Dick said.

All consultations are private and secure, and patients do not have to worry about operating the telehealth equipment.

A telehealth pharmacy service introduced in the Torres and Cape HHS in early 2016 was so successful it was a finalist in the Queensland Health 2016 Awards for Excellence.

“And from around mid-year, the health service also will start introducing a dental telehealth project in the Torres Strait region,” said Dick.

“The Torres and Cape HHS has received $1.46 million over two years for this project through the Palaszczuk government’s $35 million Integrated Care Innovation Fund, which is supporting 22 innovative projects around the state, including this one in the Torres Strait.

“The funding will allow for island health workers to be trained to help deliver this tele-dentistry project.”

Dick said telehealth technology continued to develop, with the Torres and Cape HHS trialling the use of iPads for telehealth services.

Image credit: ©Štěpán Kápl

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