Diabetes care by telehealth up and running in Eastern Bay

A nurse-led diabetes telehealth clinic has been launched in the Eastern Bay, offering consultations via video link to a nurse practitioner.

Part of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's (BOPDHB) telehealth project, the clinics are held weekly at Opotiki’s Church Street Surgery, with cases discussed with BOPDHB nurse practitioner Isabel Raiman from her office 145kms away at Tauranga Hospital.

Ms Raiman, who heads up the BOPDHB diabetes service, said clinicians at Opotiki sometimes see complex cases on which they need more advice, so rather than referring them and the patient having to go to Whakatāne, a video consultation is substituted.

“Sometimes people are working, or there might be some anxiety about going to hospital to see someone they haven’t met before, or the patient can’t afford to make the journey,” Ms Raiman said.

“It has been really successful and we’re looking at expanding it, making it more multi-disciplinary so including, for example, dieticians and podiatrists.”

Church Street Surgery registered nurse Ellen Walker said telehealth had already shown its worth.

“In one case, a complex diagnosis led to timely and appropriate treatment, whilst in another – an older lady – found her telehealth experience so good that she is asking for the dieticians to do the same,” Ms Walker said.

BOPDHB telehealth project facilitator Ernie Newman said telehealth’s cost and convenience benefits meant its use would become commonplace.

“Five or 10 years ahead it will be in everyday use, delivering huge benefits in health outcomes and efficiency, especially for elderly patients, those with long term conditions, and/or those in remote locations,” Mr Newman said.

The project was originally scheduled to run for 18 months but was recently extended to February.

Mr Newman said the Bay of Plenty region was chosen as the national demonstrator, with a focus on primary and community care rather than hospitals. The Tairawhiti region then came on board, with the project concentrating on the long stretch of coastline on the east coast between Opotiki and Gisborne.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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