This month, Telehealth went ‘live’ at SGH. Funded through the State Government’s Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund, the project provides the technology for rural hospitals across South Gippsland (Yarram, SGH and Leongatha) to receive emergency medical advice online and after hours with the Emergency Department Doctors at Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) in appropriate cases.
Telehealth provides video consultations remotely between a doctor and a patient especially after hours and or when significant distances are involved. Patient details are faxed to LRH by the nurse who then contacts the Emergency Department (ED) by telephone to arrange a video conference (VC) link. When a Telehealth referral is made to LRH, the patient becomes a ‘virtual patient’ of LRHs ED….so is ‘virtually transferred’ to LRH ED’s waiting room, and will be seen by an ED doctor in due course. The LRH ED doctor calls by telephone to check all is ready to go and a nurse stays with the patient at all times during the video consultation. The patient and ED doctor will be able to see and talk to each other using video conferencing via the VC unit camera and screen. A Telehealth consultation is just as private and confidential as a normal face-to-face ED consult – and is NOT video recorded. All patient records from the Telehealth consultation become part of patient’s medical history – at their local hospital and at LRH.
Telehealth is used in many forms around the world to overcome the barrier of distance to health care. It has been used in the more remote areas of Australia for some time, and is now making its way into mainstream health services across the country. SGH would like to remind the community that after hours, where the matter is not of a serious or life threatening nature, patients are advised to see a local GP when the clinic opens.