Specialist care just a screen away in Warwick
WARWICK'S chronically and terminally-ill patients are now able to access specialist medical advice without leaving town.
Warwick Hospital's telehealth service connects local patients with specialists and doctors in metro areas, negating the need for often avoidable travel.
Although the system has been around for three years, advancements in technology and connectivity mean the service is being utilised more and more every month.
Warwick Hospital director of nursing Anita Bolton said there were 70 telehealth consultations at the facility in October, using video technology to connect patients with doctors.
The health professionals are usually either in Toowoomba or Brisbane.
"Each patient is assessed on whether they are suitable for a telehealth consultation or whether they need to be seen in person," Ms Bolton said.
"Sometimes an initial appointment can be in person and subsequent consultations via telehealth.
"Each telehealth consultation between the patient and their doctor is chaperoned by a registered nurse who is able to make any clinical observations needed and support the patient.
"Telehealth consultations also take place over specialised telecommunication technology to ensure confidentiality and security."
Warwick man Lance Porter had his seventh telehealth conference call yesterday from Warwick Hospital.
"I had a lung transplant in 2004, so this a regular check up for me," he said.
Mr Porter said all the required tests and checks were done in Warwick prior to his telehealth appointment and then emailed to his doctor in Brisbane.
"This service saves an awful lot of both time and money for me," he said.
"These check ups are vital for me, but often there's no need for the doctor to be in the same room, so this is a brilliant service.
"It's convenient and I'm really glad an option like this is available in Warwick."
Ms Bolton said telehealth was suitable for a range of patients with long-term, chronic conditions who needed constant specialist monitoring as well as patients with more acute conditions.
"We get a lot of really positive feedback from patients who love being able to come in locally for an appointment instead of needing to set aside up to a day to travel," she said.
"The range of specialities covered by telehealth in October included cardiology, orthopaedics, dermatology, gynaecology, midwifery, mental health, geriatrics and general surgery, so it really does have wide application."
Patients and residents are encouraged to talk to their GPs or health care providers to discuss telehealth options.