TELEHEALTH has been a new way for many of us to access health professionals during the pandemic.
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For many it has been seen as a blessing, with the advent of widespread use of technology to see our general practitioners and specialists saving us long journeys, and waiting time in surgeries and hospitals.
Telehealth has made the workplace safer for healthcare workers too.
Limiting the number of people that they are being exposed to during the pandemic.
Dr Paul Craven works in paediatrics with Hunter New England Health, and he has been using telehealth to supplement face to face appointments with patients for a long time.
Using telephones and videos he has been “seeing” patients through outreach in the north and other areas of the State from John Hunter Hospital.
He sees patients at the beginning of life but believes that there is no barrier for telehealth to allow for care at all stages of life.
Dr Craven told News Of The Area, “COVID-19 switched the way healthcare is being delivered overnight with an increase from 70 to 700 telehealth consultations delivered in one week.”
The feedback has been positive, with less disruption to work being one positive cited.
He is a great proponent for telehealth and believes that it allows specialists to work with local services to deliver great outcomes for patients.
Of course there are pros and cons; “When you see a patient face to face you can see if they are well.”
“I think that it is really important that it is right for the patient,” he said.
Telehealth models may include a visit from a district nurse providing observations or be conducted with a general practitioner and a specialist working together.
He believes that we will see a review of systems to find the very best information technology support for telehealth, and that it will evolve into the future.
In Port Stephens the jupiter service which delivers mental health services for youth has pivoted to a version of telehealth throughout the pandemic called Teleport.
Teleport is working alongside face to face services on the Tomaree Peninsula.
jupiter has despite the uncertain times been providing young people with a “Space to talk”.
“jupiter is adapting with the times of the coronavirus (COVID-19) we have introduced “teleport” our Telehealth Service“ Space to talk”, allowing eligible young people in the Port Stephens area to connect with a practitioner that fits their area of need, receiving professional psychology, counselling and general wellbeing support without leaving their home.” said Paul Pearton, Operations Manager and Counsellor for jupiter.
Telehealth is here to stay, it may never replace 100 percent of our healthcare visits, but it may well provide people particularly in regional areas with greater access to specialist services in our own homes, towns and local health services facilities.
By Marian SAMPSON