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Rural health with a digital future (Thames Hospital)

News Item

posted by WM Admin on 2015-06-23 14:30:56.951

Waikato DHB media release, 23 June 2015

Telehealth is at the forefront of hospital services in Thames. All four types of the technology are been used throughout the hospital to link patients with specialists throughout the Waikato.

When Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Minister for Coromandel Scott Simpson visited the rural hospital last week Thames clinical director Dr Ruth Large explained how telehealth (or video conferencing) is been used to improve access and equity for patients living remotely.  “Tele-acute support, tele-ambulatory care, tele-ward support and tele-workplace support are been used to allow patients services closer to their home and whanau,” she said.

“Tele-acute support, tele-ambulatory care, tele-ward support and tele-workplace support are been used to allow patients services closer to their home and whanau,” she said.

Dr Large demonstrated how complex trauma cases are now beamed to specialists all over New Zealand when the Emergency Department in Thames needs a more specialist opinion.

“The tool also helps to improve professional collaboration by allowing us to video conference with other specialists in our field – where we used to have to take a day off clinical duties we can now just sit in on the conference for an hour and then get back to see patients,” said Dr Large.

In addition to some outpatients clinic being run via telehealth,  Thames has trialled a mobile cart unit which is hoped to be used increasingly for virtual ward rounds and the development of a virtual stroke unit.

In the future, Telehealth may be able to facilitate the management of acute patients and potentially be used to augment specialist services in the community both by tele-monitoring and increased primary care support.

There is also a videoconference set up for education days and general meetings.

After the demonstration Dr Coleman met with staff and toured other parts of the hospital.