This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.
Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH)
Gippsland Health Alliance
Residents of the Gippsland community in regional Victoria do not have the same access to services and care as people living in metropolitan areas. This is due to vast distances between services, lack of public transport, and limited access to specialist medical services.
Those who do seek care, particularly specialist care, are faced with high medical costs, the burden of travel and having to take time off work, which can be a significant barrier in a region impacted by socioeconomic disadvantage.
In 2015, LRH developed a model of care to enable telehealth consultations between hospital paediatricians and patient families in the Gippsland community.
Building on this project, LRH expanded its existing model of care to deliver paediatric, endocrinology, chronic heart failure and oncology telehealth consultations to patients in their homes, with the goal of improving access to specialist care for residents in the remote areas of the Gippsland region.
- Reduce the costs and burden of travel for patients and carers to attend specialist outpatient appointments
- Improve focus on patient-centred care
- Reduce percentage of ‘did not attend’ appointments for specialist clinics to improve clinic efficiency
- Strengthen partnerships with general practitioners by providing upskilling and enhanced professional development
- Improved access to specialist outpatient clinics by enabling patients to have telehealth consultations from their home or local medical centre
- Saved patients and carers an average of 254km of travel and $168 in costs per episode of care
- Decreased the number of non-attended outpatient appointments in the endocrinology clinic
- Received high satisfaction ratings and positive feedback from patients, carers and clinicians
December 2020 – The telehealth model has become an established means of providing access to clinical services and health improvement programs throughout Gippsland.
The foundations that have underpinned this service have enabled innovative responses, enhanced localised care, and created opportunities for broader consumer engagement. For example, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, LRH was able to quickly scale remote appointments by leveraging previously established processes, as well as internal and external partnerships.
Other areas that have made great strides through this project's telehealth model include allied health, mental health services, outpatient clinics (e.g. nephrology, general surgery, paediatrics), and regional cancer care services (i.e. oncology and haematology).