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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

June 27, 2011

West Coast DHB leading the way with Telemedicine initiatives

Further improvements are being planned for the delivery of medical support to the West Coast from a distance, giving improved and more equitable access to health care services.

Telemedicine allows the delivery of medical care and education by remote transmission of audio and video data in real or delayed time. Over the last 12 months the West Coast District Health Board has been progressively installing telehealth equipment at Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Hari Hari, and Whataroa, with Franz Josef and Haast currently being added. This is in addition to the facilities already available in Greymouth and Buller and Reefton.

The equipment allows doctors, nurses and other health professionals in remote outposts to consult with specialists about a patient's condition. The discussions could be with specialists in Christchurch, or anywhere in the country.

Associate Professor Michael Sullivan, Clinical Leader of the telemedicine initiative, describes telemedicine as an enabling technology. "It does not replace services that don't exist but supports clinical care collaboration across geographic regions." Telemedicine enhances equity of access to health care. To be able to interact with colleagues and patients remotely has other advantages, he says. "It can promote a sense of working in a team."

The aim is to improve support for both patients and staff on the Coast, and potentially, prevent unnecessary transfers from the West Coast.

To date the Paediatric Service has used telemedicine for outpatient clinics, to decrease the amount of time children have to wait to see a specialist. These clinics have been held in Greymouth and Westport, and have been very well accepted by children and their families.

Telemedicine has also been used for education sessions for the medical and nursing staff working on the Coast, and for consultation prior to the transfer of patients from the Neonatal Unit in Christchurch back to the Coast.

The next step is to provide advice and support at the time children are admitted to hospital with an acute illness, and then during their stay. At the moment this is done by telephone, but the capacity for West Coast DHB paediatric liaison, Dr John Garrett, who is based in Christchurch, to also be able to see children will significantly enhance this support.

Dot O’Connor

Dot O'Connor, West Coast DHB Clinical Nurse Manager - Paediatrics, seen here in Christchurch, evaluating the mobile clinical telemedicine cart (on right) and a standard videoconferencing unit.

A mobile telemedicine cart that can be taken to the patient's bedside is being evaluated, and soon will be installed in Grey Base Hospital. This will allow specialists in Christchurch to see patients when they present to hospital, and to carry out "virtual" ward rounds. It will be used particularly to support hospital - based paediatric and neonatal care.

The new mobile clinical cart will be provided through funds raised in the 2010 Fresh Future appeal. Countdown Kids (formerly Fresh Future) is an annual national raffle run by the Progressive Enterprise family of supermarkets throughout New Zealand. It raises money for paediatric care in five metropolitan and five provincial hospitals. Grey Base Hospital has benefited by more than $170,000 from this fundraising over the last three years, which has enhanced the staff's abilities to care for sick children. This year's fund-raising campaign will be launched in August.

 

For further information please contact

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595
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