A NEW interactive video conferencing system at St John of God Warrnambool Hospital is linking patients to health experts around the state.
The telehealth link brings patients and consultants together at the click of a button and is reducing costs, travelling times and improving quality of care.
St John of God is the first private hospital to subscribe to the South West Alliance of Rural Health high-speed regional broadband telecommunication network.
The system was installed after a suggestion from Geelong-based visiting urologist Richard Grills, who is using the telehealth link to provide follow-up care for post-surgical patients.
It will be used across other health disciplines, including oncology.
The hospital’s chief executive officer Glen Power said the system was a winner for patients, consultants and the hospital.
“It will give patients better access to visiting consultants and reduce time and travel obligations for both consultants and patients,” Dr Power said.
“In many cases, patients who have had surgery in Warrnambool have needed to travel to Geelong, Ballarat or Melbourne for follow-up care.
“Now they can use the telehealth system for the same outcomes but without the travel burden.
“It saves them from driving long distances for what might be a short consultation.”
Technological advances in internet audio quality and high-definition cameras allow close and detailed examinations of patients.
The system can focus within centimetres of a wound.
The hospital can also use the system to consult with specialists on a range of topics and will investigate the possibility of using it for training networks and for locum support during leave absences.
The telehealth suite will also be used for outreach to other health care services across the south-west.
The suite is portable and can be used for bedside and outpatient services.
Dr Power said the system would improve the hospital’s ability to collaborate with public health providers and to take part in multi-site patient case consultations.