Perth hospitals trialling virtual consultations

Shirley Graham using the telehealth service, watched by her daughter Corinne Graham.
Shirley Graham using the telehealth service, watched by her daughter Corinne Graham.

A TRIAL at two Perth hospitals will help people avoid long stints in waiting rooms for specialist appointments.

The North Metropolitan Health Service is expanding the use of virtual consultations, used in regional WA for remote patients, to Sir Charles Gairdner and Osborne Park hospitals.

The service is trialling using telehealth as the default mechanism for a range of outpatient clinic appointments, including orthopaedics and surgical services clinics at the two hospitals.

Patients download a free app, connect to the internet from a suitable device and login to have a video consultation with their doctor, meaning the appointment can be done from home or even a quiet space at work.

Mosman Park resident Shirley Graham (83) receives speech therapy treatment via telehealth from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, supported by her daughter Corinne Graham.

“We were nervous about using telehealth at first, mainly because it wasn’t something we’d done before, but the team made the process from start to finish easy for us to follow,” Corinne said.

“I initially helped mum get started but now she does it all on her own, it’s that simple. We just tell mum her appointment time, she logs in and away she goes.”

Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital is one of the hospitals trialling telehealth.

Telehealth manager Tania Orr said travel time and the inconvenience of attending outpatient appointments at hospital was often a barrier.

“The reality is most of our patients have access to a video enabled device and the internet,” she said.

“Whether that’s a mobile phone, tablet, PC or laptop – that’s all that is required.

“We recognise that telehealth isn’t suitable for all consultations, but we encourage patients to ask their health care professional whether theirs is.

“For appointments where a physical assessment is not required – like a follow-up or test-result appointment – telehealth is often the best method.”

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