Children living in rural and regional areas often have limited access to specialist healthcare, with fewer paediatricians and subspecialty services available locally.
As the main provider of outreach and subspecialty services in Victoria, The Royal Children’s Hospital is using its leadership position to innovate how we deliver care to rural and regional patients.
RCH Telehealth is the solution. By improving access to important healthcare services in an easy to use and financially sustainable way, patients receive better care, and scheduling pressures for in-hospital appointments are reduced.
RCH Telehealth began in 2011 with a consultation pilot. The results were clear: online video consultations reduced patient travel time, patients’ time away from school, parents’ time away from work, associated costs and disruption to family life.
Today, 60-100 Telehealth appointments are provided each month by more than 100 different clinicians.
One of the most recent departments to implement Telehealth is Occupational Therapy. Assessing a patient’s functional needs after injury or surgery, Occupational Therapists play an important role in ensuring patients can be discharged.
Part of this process requires Occupational Therapists to have a good understanding of the home environment a patient’s returning to. When a patient lives in a rural or regional area, it can be difficult to organise a home visit.
Through a successful pilot project, the Occupational Therapy team found that eighty per cent of parents felt a Telehealth home assessment was helpful in preparing for their child’s discharge.
Also, with seventy per cent of the patients in the pilot living more than 50 kilometres from the hospital, the study found that Telehealth offered them a practical way for the Occupational Therapist to assess their home.
Posted December 2016