April 20, 2022

Two years of Telehealth

Our Telehealth program at Northern Health is celebrating its second year in operation.

Telehealth was introduced to the health service two years ago, as part of our response to COVID-19 and as a strategy to support patients attending our Specialist Clinics (Outpatients).

Now, Telehealth is used in multiple departments including sub-acute services, inpatient wards, community programs, Virtual Emergency Department (ED) and our Transcultural and Language Services (TALS) team.

Telehealth Coordinator, Tracey Webster, said Telehealth has given more time back to patients.

“Patients have been able to have appointments by televideo or telephone instead of face-to-face. It has been very well received by Northern Health patients,” she said.

“We have received positive feedback from patients. In a survey where 248 patients responded – 86 per cent of patients agreed or strongly agreed that their appointment by Telehealth saved them travel time, 83 per cent of patients strongly agreed or agreed that they felt comfortable asking questions during their Telehealth appointment and 70 per cent of patients strongly agreed or agreed that they felt the received the same standard or care as they would have from a face-to-face consultation.”

Over the past two years, Telehealth has been an important asset to Northern Health, as innovative new services are implemented including our Virtual ED.

“Virtual ED has really been a success story with Telehealth. The model of care is very safe using Telehealth,” Tracey said.

“We use Telehealth in our inpatient areas for family meetings, secondary consults which can prevent unnecessary transfers and virtual visiting. We also use it on our sub-acute areas such as home care packages, HARP and home dialysis services to troubleshoot or provide additional education without the nurse having to drive to the home.”

Going forward, Tracey said she is always looking at way to improve the Telehealth service at Northern Health, including how to better educate staff on the use and importance of Telehealth.

“We are reviewing the education for staff and hope to have an LMS module added soon. This has been created in conjunction with other health services so that clinicians would only need to complete the LMS at one health service,” she said.

Some patient feedback on Telehealth:

“Telehealth is from the comfort of home and it’s easier for my child.”

“It saved me time, didn’t have to take time off work.”

“Do not have to wait in a waiting room with others.”

“I could go about my work at home until the call was made.”

“Saved on travel time and parking. It is less stressful.”

Featured image: A patient conducting a hand therapy Telehealth appointment with a Northern Health clinician.