February 8, 2021

Telehealth Hub launched

Northern Health’s Telehealth Hub is now in operation. The hub is a new, redesigned and dedicated space where clinicians can use a video call or phone to have appointments with patients, if they don’t need to see them face to face. The telehealth clinic hours will be morning and afternoon, 8.30 am – 12.30 pm and 1 pm – 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

Tracey Webster, Telehealth Project Officer, explained having a dedicated hub reduces the need for clinicians to use a whole clinical room, and hubs have been found to be efficient and effective, while being in line with Northern Health’s digital transformation and our COVID-19 response.

“The new hub is OHS compliant and has purpose built acoustics, meeting industry standards. For patients, it is a private space and they will get that sense of privacy that they are alone with the doctor. We have state of the art noise-cancelling headsets and every part of patient experience has been taken into account. The OHS&Wellbeing team, as well as Infection Prevention have been involved to ensure proper ventilation, seating and COVID-Safe plans. For clinicians, we have accommodated the environment to be quiet, well-equipped and supported with a dedicated administration staff member. A water cooler is available for clinicians to maintain hydration while conducting their clinics,” she explained.

Samantha Soggee, Director of Operations Cancer Services and Specialist Clinics, explained there are 12 desks for clinicians in the hub and one for admin support.

“It took us six weeks to build the Telehealth Hub and included a lot of planning to make it COVID-Safe, like separating sections of desk spaces, having a free-flow air conditioner and similar. The space allows us to adjust the room, depending on the current COVID situation,” she said.

Cathy Fletcher, Nurse Unit Manager Specialist Clinics added: “Specialist Clinics will be forever changed due to impacts of COVID-19. This is a positive outcome, and the change is long-term, as many people can now have their appointments wherever they are.”

“Patients like that they don’t have to come to hospital, and we have also noticed that, with the introduction of telehealth, the fail to attend rate has dropped. A lot of people said they liked that they can actually be at work and still attend their appointments, without taking days off. It was also beneficial to parents who were schooling and it was easier to see a paediatrician this way,” she said.

Telehealth is delivered via Health Direct, Government’s official platform for video consultations. It allows up to five participants in a call, which means interpreters, Aboriginal Liaison Officers or family members are able to join. Additionally, AUSLAN interpreting is available.

“With the virtual appointments, Northern Health is reducing our carbon footprint, contributing to the environmental benefits, as there are less people in cars going for their doctors’ appointments. Northern Health is on a path to digital transformation, and this is one aspect of it,” Tracey added.

Featured image (left to right): Cathy Fletcher, Dr Katharine See, Samantha Soggee, Tracey Webster