Telehealth takes on the west

The WA branch of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is holding a 'Taking on Telehealth' workshop in Perth this Friday, March 2.

Held in association with Rural Health West and the Western Australian General Practice Telehealth Advisory Group (WA GP TAG), the workshop aims to bring together industry leaders in telehealth service provision and doctors looking at using and setting up this technology in their general practice.

Speakers include Mike Civil, chair of the RACGP telehealth standards taskforce who will discuss implementation guidelines for video consultations in general practice.

Dr Civil said the full extent of telehealth benefits were yet to be seen, with a number of opportunities to expand telehealth initiatives into areas including aged care facilities and into the homes of people living with a disability.

“For many members of the community, including the elderly and disabled, travelling large distances to receive healthcare is not always an option,” he said. “This also goes both ways, with GPs not always able to complete regular home or community visits when time and resources are limited.”

Trevor Lord, a GP with the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council will provide tips and tricks for using telehealth in practice.

A representative of the Australian Association of Practice Managers (AAPM) will provide guidance to GPs on preparing for telehealth , while Craig Szucs, change manager with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), will provide an update on the PCEHR.

Frank Jones, WA faculty chair, said telehealth initiatives, including video consultations and short message services (SMS), were playing an increasingly integral role in making healthcare accessible to all.

“Western Australia’s vast geographical area lends itself to wide population dispersion, with a large proportion of the community residing outside of major metropolitan hubs,” Associate Professor Jones said.

“Patients who previously had to drive hundreds of kilometres to receive healthcare, can now ‘see’ their doctor via video conference from the convenience of their own home.”

The college has developed a number of resources for members to help them get used to telehealth, which was given a boost in July last year with the introduction of Medicare rebates and financial incentives for video consultations with medical specialists in a distant location.

It has produced standards and implementation guidelines for general practices, along with patient information brochures and a guide to video consultation etiquette.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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