Thames Hospital Telehealth

Sep 2018

In the Thames Outpatient department there is a simple, comfy room with a few chairs, table and a TV screen. This is where patients and doctors are linked by a very secure video/audio connection between two or more sites. In this case the participants are usually a person attending an outpatient clinic at Thames Hospital, their nurse, and a specialist consultant at Waikato Hospital.

It’s called telehealth. In practice, it means a smaller hospital like Thames can bring Waikato Hospital specialists to an outpatient clinic without anyone having to travel the three-hour round trip between the two locations.

Two passionate advocates for telehealth at Thames Hospital are Fiona Sayer, nurse coordinator Oncology/Haematology, and Bonnie O’Keefe, nurse coordinator for Thames Outpatient Department.

In one of many examples of telehealth at Thames, Fiona Sayer has been adapting oncology outpatient clinics for occasions when it is not practical for a specialist to travel across in person. These clinics give people face-to-face consultations with a specialist but via a TV screen real-time connection.

Sayer ran a Thames clinic in July this year where oncology patients had telehealth consultations with Matthew Seel, consultant oncologist based at Waikato Hospital. Eleven of the twelve patients were happy with the experience and satisfied with how it went.

The idea is a win-win, as it means more patients can be seen in a timely way, and a consultant’s time is used more efficiently.

Bonnie O’Keefe says there is so much scope for telehealth not just in outpatient consultations, but for inpatient ward rounds, staff education and hospital business meetings. Thames is actively doing all of these, with great results.

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