Renal telemedicine: a registrar’s experience

This story first appeared in the July 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.
Earlier this year, the Northern Territory’s specialist training program funded a new service providing renal telemedicine consultations by registrars from Royal Darwin Hospital. The service’s registrar reflects on the benefits of the service as well as the unique challenges that have to be overcome in the Top End.

In the Top End, we face unique challenges in terms of delivering renal services to our population, which is spread out into small communities. The burden of kidney disease is relatively high and we have established a successful outreach program, but despite 98 visits a year to different communities by four full-time nephrologists, there was still room for improvement.

From February this year, the specialist training program funded a renal advanced trainee position dedicated to telemedicine. Four registrars would rotate into this position in 2014, and I was the first renal telemedicine registrar at Royal Darwin Hospital. So far, we have yet to encounter other sites with a similar role, but we believe creating similar positions would be beneficial for the hospital’s telemedicine program and its patients, as well as providing unique learning opportunities for the registrars.

Having a dedicated telemedicine medical professional is useful when setting up and running telehealth clinics. As the first telemedicine registrar, I helped to design the telemedicine program with the careful guidance of my consultants. We were able to set up specialised telehealth areas in our organisation and dedicated a consulting room in the dialysis unit to telehealth.

Given there was a dedicated registrar, we were able to provide up to three telehealth clinics a week in the form of provider-to-patient and also provider-to-provider tele-consults. One of these clinics is run by both the chronic kidney disease nurse and the telemedicine registrar. We do not have any restrictions in terms of the characteristics of patients to be reviewed through telemedicine.

To read the full story, click here for the July 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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