Videoconferencing connects WA's medical specialists

Wednesday, 23 September, 2015

Videoconferencing connects WA's medical specialists

Using high-definition videoconferencing equipment to connect emergency medicine specialists in Perth to doctors and nurses in regional hospitals, Western Australia's Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) is now available in 72 emergency departments (EDs) across the state.

Nurses and doctors in these facilities can now access emergency medicine specialists in Perth via video from 8 am to 11 pm seven days per week, and the program is looking to expand.

"Since it was introduced in 2012 as a pilot program in eight Wheatbelt towns, the emergency telehealth service has delivered more than 19,000 consultations and now links to 72 regional EDs, from the Kimberley to the Great Southern," WA Health Minister Dr Kim Hames said.

"If you're working in a country hospital, having access to an emergency specialist in a virtual ED brings a level of experience and expertise that's both reassuring and empowering, so it's an incredibly positive step for patients and staff."

Dr Hames said it is important to highlight that the ETS program, made possible by the state government's Royalties for Regions Southern Inland Health Initiative and delivered through WA Health, works in partnership with local GP services in small regional towns and does not replace them.

"The role of ETS is very specific; it's only used in country hospital EDs for patients who require specialist emergency care and is not a replacement for seeing your GP for non-emergency attention," he said.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the success of the program in the south of the state has paved the way for the service being expanded to more remote locations in the Kimberley and Pilbara.

"The emergency telehealth service provides specialist support to local regional clinicians, improving delivery times for vital medical intervention," Redman said.

Image courtesy Intel Free Press under CC

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