Telstra Health is addressing the gap on access to the essential health services enjoyed by those of us in metropolitan regions, compared with remote and isolated regions.
Data from the service reveals the helpline has reduced the number of emergency department visits for non-acute treatment.
Access to a GP is the first port of call for many medical enquiries and is something we would all like to take for granted.
Yet for many people, access to such services is limited. Telstra Health is doing its utmost to rectify that situation through the use of its Virtual Doctor service – a service that gives patients access to doctors either over the phone or via video conferencing.
For those living in isolated areas, the Virtual Doctor service has already demonstrated its benefits for patients and care providers alike. The service is scalable so providers can deploy it according to their fluctuating level of need – from an after-hours gap in medical cover, up to 24/7 availability.
Data from the service reveals the helpline has reduced the number of emergency department visits for non-acute treatment and increased patient medication compliance levels, as patients are able to access a prescription for the regular medication in the event that they run out.
This creates flow-on benefits for the health system and a win-win situation for both providers and patients.
The real impact of remote access for medical advice
Patients benefit by no longer having to travel vast distances or wait to see a doctor, when they have limited services
Kambalda WA is an example of a whole community which has benefitted from the Virtual Doctor service, which health services in the region have branded “CallADoc”. With CallADoc, patients in Kambalda can now access medical advice and treatment, when they would not have been able to otherwise due to the gaps in doctor coverage in the town.
According to Jenny Langley, Acting Manager of the Kambalda Health Centre, the centre at times is just a nursing facility because they don’t have any GPs on site.
“The community still comes to us for support in their health needs, but having the CallADoc service on board has been really beneficial for providing our community with the same options they’d find in the city or suburban areas,” says Jenny.
Strengthening healthcare services with scale
Telstra Health’s Virtual Doctor service provides organisations like the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) with a scalable solution for access to doctors.
The Goldfields region covers 31 per cent of Western Australia, and some of it is extremely remote.
Tralee Cable is the regional manager of the area for the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), and it’s her job to follow through on the Alliance’s aim of reducing inequity of access to primary health services, particularly for more vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
For Tralee, scalability is incredibly important. “Many communities are not large enough to have a GP located there all the time, so it allows access to those communities that are quite small and quite remote,” she says.
According to Elyse Sweden, a pharmacist in Kalgoorlie, even regional towns like hers can suffer from long waitlists and lack of care due to the scarcity of healthcare professionals.