Telehealth consultations aim to improve access, availability, and efficiency of quality health care. Instead of having to travel to see a specialist, an increasing number of patients are using video-conferencing. In consideration of this, we wanted to better understand consumers’ thoughts and experience of telehealth.
This month, 9 in 10 panel members reported never being involved in a telehealth consultation. Those who had been involved in a telehealth consultation said it was due to their specialist not being local, or it enabled them to see their specialist from the comfort and safety of their home.
When being referred to see a specialist, 60% of people said they would prefer a face-to-face appointment (requiring travel to attend) over a local telehealth appointment, whilst 20% have no preference. We also received a special note to let us know our options were too limited – a face to face meeting with a specialist would be considered an important first step – and then subsequently opt for telehealth follow up. Thanks for the pick up!
We asked panel members who they imagine might benefit from a telehealth style consultation, responses included:
Pleasingly, 80% of people disagreed with the statement ‘using telehealth is too complicated to think about’ and most people (60%) agreed that telehealth improves timely access to specialists. More than half of panel members believed their information would be kept private and confidential but were unsure whether telehealth consultations provided quality care.
Video-conferencing is one of the main ways in which telehealth is improving access to healthcare services for patients who live in regional, rural and remote areas.
COORDINARE has been trialling specialist outreach services via telehealth across a number of priority areas. One example is the chronic pain outreach service which has been offered to consumers in Southern NSW as part of a partnership between COORDINARE, Southern NSW Local Health District and St Vincent’s Hospital pain clinic. Between January and April 2017, 82 telehealth consultations were undertaken, with 97% of patients and providers reporting a positive experience. Consumers were pleased to report saving over 32,000 kilometres of travel involving 326 hours of driving.
To make it easier for healthcare providers to offer Australians alternative access to their services, no matter where they are located, Healthdirect Australia has developed Video Call. Find out more here.
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