This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.
Gippsland Southern Health Service
- Latrobe Regional Hospital
- South Gippsland Hospital
- Yarram and District Health Service
In 2016, four urgent care centres (UCCs) operated by Gippsland Southern Health Service, South Gippsland Hospital, and Yarram and District Health Service relied on general practitioners (GPs) from local medical centres to provide medical consultation and emergency care to patients.
Over time, it became increasingly difficult to maintain a 24/7 UCC service due to the burden it placed on GPs to constantly be on call and challenges in recruiting additional GPs. Nursing staff were also impacted because if a GP was not available after hours, they would need to care for the patient until alternative management could be arranged.
Without sufficient medical staff to provide consistent overnight consultation, the health services were unable to meet community demand for after-hours medical care. This meant patients had to leave the local community to seek care or wait until the GP clinic opened the next day to be assessed and receive treatment. Depending on their health concern, this delay could lead to negative outcomes for patients.
The health services developed a telehealth model that connected patients at the UCCs with medical staff at Latrobe Regional Hospital’s emergency department to improve patient access to timely care.
- Improve access to urgent care consultations after hours
- Improve the timeliness of treatment for urgent care patients after hours
- Reduce the risk of potential adverse events due to lack of medical consultation and management overnight
- Facilitated after-hours medical consultations with an ED doctor for 21 semi-urgent and non-urgent patients
- Helped to deliver timely after-hours care, with half of telehealth consultations taking place within 20 minutes of referral
- Reduced travel for patients
- Reduced the workload for local medical practitioners
December 2020 – The telehealth model has been incorporated into business as usual and continues to be offered as an after-hours service.