AFTER-HOURS care is now available at the Terang hospital, after the launch of a new telehealth pilot program.
A joint project of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) and the My Emergency Dr (MED) phone application, the After-Hours Telehealth Pilot will run for about 12 months until August 28, 2020.
Through the program, Urgent Care Centre medical staff will be able to use the MED application to immediately connect to a team of specialist physicians to remotely diagnose and arrange treatments via a video call based service.
Western Victoria PHN chief executive officer Dr Leanne Beagley said the program will enable immediate care for Terang district patients when their GP is unavailable and will not replace local GP services.
“My Emergency Dr is a current provider of telehealth services in Victoria and has experience working with rural health services,” she said.
“The pilot aims to complement the important role that GPs play in the provision of after-hours care in the community and responds to some of the significant workforce demands and challenges in rural areas.
“Western Victoria PHN has provided in excess of $550,000 for a range of innovative after-hours initiatives to assist primary health care service delivery and improve health outcomes across western Victoria.”
Terang and Mortlake Health Service chief executive officer Julia Ogdin said being selected to be involved in the telehealth project was a coup for the community which would benefit from the trial.
“The Terang community should feel very reassured by the thorough processes and systems that have been implemented in order to make this project accessible,” she said.
“We will look forward to seeing the outcomes of the project for the Terang community late in 2020.”
MED chief operating officer Dawn Floyd said the aim of the service is to support Terang patients in need of after-hours care.
“Our doctors are experts in making rapid, accurate assessments of all medical emergencies and can assess a patient’s situation via the built-in video on a smartphone or tablet,” she said.
“The MED doctors are all experienced specialist physicians who can provide layered support to the Urgent Care Centre, whenever there is a clinical need.”
The Western Victoria PHN will work in partnership with Deakin University to undertake an evaluation of the pilot program to determine if the telehealth system is a viable solution to manage after hours services or if the service is sustainable.