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This was an innovation project supported by the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund.

Lead organisation

Mildura Base Hospital (MBH)


  • Alfred Hospital
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval


MBH is a rural health service located in northern Victoria. It services approximately 80,000 people in Mildura and the surrounding regions and has the one of the highest Aboriginal populations in the state.

In 2016, approximately 600 patients were being admitted to MBH’s five-bed intensive care unit (ICU) each year, with many of these patients having chronic complex conditions. 

Limited capacity and access to intensivists in rural Victoria meant MBH was transferring more than 100 patients to tertiary health services each year for critical care. Patient transfers are particularly difficult for Aboriginal patients as the travel required has significant negative cultural connotations.

Seeking to avoid unnecessary hospital transfers and allow patients to stay close to family and local support, the health service established a telehealth model of care that brought metropolitan specialist expertise into the ICU via video.


  • Where possible, keep ICU patients at MBH and decrease the number of avoidable transfers
  • Support medical and nursing staff with immediate access to tertiary centre support
  • Provide educational opportunities
  • Develop a collaborative support model


  • Averted 34 critical care patient transfers in 12 months, including 23 ICU transfers and 11 renal transfers. This allowed more patients to stay at MBH ICU, close to family and supports, and reduced bed demand at tertiary sites.
  • Ensured the care provided at MBH ICU was comparable to that of a tertiary centre through a collaborative approach.
  • Saved more than $287,000 in ambulance retrieval costs.
  • Achieved 100 per cent staff satisfaction with the support received from telehealth.
  • Built strong interprofessional relationships and support networks across participating sites.


December 2020 – Since project close, the Critical care telehealth model has averted more than 100 transfers. Due to its success, the Better Care Victoria Innovation Fund has supported the scaling and spreading of this innovation project to three more sites. 

Learn more about the Critical care telehealth scaling project.

Project summary

Video transcript

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