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Bush-city cardiac partnership benefits Central West patients

Tuesday 3 November 2020

CWHHS cardiac telehealth service 201103

A unique partnership between Central West Hospital and Health Service and a metropolitan health service is delivering significant benefits for rural cardiac patients.

Central West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr David Walker said the cardiac telehealth program had been introduced in the region in 2016 in partnership with the Metro North Hospital and Health Service and was expanding steadily.

“We recorded 500 cardiac telehealth occasions of service in 2018–19, rising to 543 in 2019–20,’’ he said.

“And we’re on track for even more this financial year as in just the first two months of the year – July and August – we have already recorded 104 cardiac telehealth occasions of service.

“These are all services for which Central West residents previously would have had to travel outside our region to receive.’’

Longreach resident Judy Tanks recently took part in a cardiac telehealth session with her specialist at The Prince Charles Hospital, Dr Scott McKenzie.

Dr McKenzie provides specialist cardiology telehealth sessions for the Central West each Tuesday and Friday.

“If it weren’t for Dr Tiffany Cover and Dr McKenzie, I would not be here today. The care I have received from these two doctors has been extraordinary,’’ Judy said.

“Telehealth also saves me the hassle of having to go all the way to Brisbane and allows me access to specialist care so close to home.

“The technology is a great enhancement to the range of services available at my local clinic

“It’s good to be able to speak directly with Dr McKenzie while having the support of a GP and nurse in the room.’’

Dr Walker said the cardiac telehealth service was supported by the Metro North HHS through its specialist hospitals – the Royal Brisbane and Women’s and The Prince Charles.

“We can put patients on an exercise treadmill at Longreach and other facilities with a doctor and nurse in attendance and test their cardiac systems under stress, while a cardiac scientist and registrar at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) can watch the patient and provide education, support and supervision via video-conferencing equipment,’’ he said.

“Patients can have their hearts checked and potential problems picked up early, without even having to leave the region.

“We have since also extended the program to include 24-hour holter monitoring.

“This allows us to apply the monitors to patients in Longreach, as well as other smaller health facilities, under the supervision of Cardiac Sciences at the RBWH.

“Similarly, we can host specialist consultations here in the Central West with cardiologists at The Prince Charles Hospital via telehealth.

“As a result, patients who might previously have had to travel outside the region to access cardiac testing or a specialist cardiac consultation can now do so much closer to home.

“We are also seeing patients who might previously have avoided undergoing cardiac testing or having a specialist appointment simply because they didn’t want to travel away to do so.

“There’s absolutely no doubt telehealth has created a health revolution in the bush.

“Already in the Central West, we offer telehealth services in more than 60 disciplines and this number is growing steadily.

“Indeed, we have increased our total telehealth occasions of service from 1020 service events in 2014 to 3783 in 2019. So far this year, up to 30 September, we have already delivered 3535 telehealth occasions of service and will likely break 4000 by the end of the year.’’

Dr Walker said the cardiac telehealth service and other cardiac outreach services from RBWH and The Prince Charles Hospital were part of a much broader partnership developed with the Metro North HHS, which also included delivery of a tele-chemotherapy service that started in 2018.

“This partnership is continuing to support efforts to deliver responsive, innovative, high quality and safe patient care closer to home and link Central West Health personnel to experienced advice across a range of corporate and clinical functions,’’ he said.

“Central West Health has a strong history of achieving great patient-centred and community-centred care. The delivery of services like cardiac telehealth and tele-chemotherapy are examples of making health care delivery changes with the focus squarely on patients and their support networks.

“But our capacity to do so is very much enhanced by partnerships such as the one we have with the Metro North HHS and its specialist tertiary hospitals.

“I would like to thank the Metro North HHS, along with Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital for their continuing strong support of our health service, our patients and our clinicians.’’

Dr Walker said, as well as benefitting patients, extending services such as cardiac telehealth and tele-chemotherapy to remote areas like the Central West also helped with staff retention.

“Recruiting and retaining clinical staff in remote areas is a strategic priority for us in the Central West and it is made much easier if you can offer them the opportunity to learn new skills and an interesting and satisfying work environment,’’ he said.

“It’s a win-win for everyone, for patients, for our staff and for the health service.

PHOTO CAPTION

Longreach cardiac patient Judy Tanks attends a telehealth consultation with her specialist Dr Scott McKenzie from The Prince Charles Hospital who is on screen.

ENDS

For further information contact:

James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379

Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au

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Last updated: 5 November 2020