Telehealth in General Practice
This section of the website has been co-developed with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) with a specific focus on telehealth for GPs and their practices.
RNZCGP POSITION STATEMENT: TELEHEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY-BASED HEALTH SERVICES IN PRIMARY CARE
The College advocates the adoption and effective use of technology (such as telehealth and technology-based health services) to assist GPs and rural hospital doctors to provide safe, quality health care, improve health equity and increase service efficiency.
The College is of the view that the use of technology in general practice should support the ongoing relationship between the patient and the general practice team, complementing in-person consultations but not replacing them. Accordingly, the adoption and use of technology should be driven and led by the general practice team.
The College agrees with the following statement by Dr Jordan Shlain:
“Health care is a people business that needs technology. It is not a technology business that just needs people.”
Read the College’s position statement HERE
WHY ADOPT TELEHEALTH SERVICES?
Telehealth has the potential to make major improvements to health equity, efficiency in health care delivery and improve population health.
GPs and patients are among the people who benefit from telehealth. Benefits include:
- Access to health care services particularly for people in rural areas and those who find it difficult to travel.
- Real-time patient monitoring allows for the delivery of more proactive and targeted care, eg early intervention that avoids hospital admission.
- Better communication between GP and patient and GP and other health practitioners.
- GP-to-professional telehealth enables better coordinated care with seamless information exchange.
- Improved access to specialist expertise – it may reduce costly referrals and admissions, improve care, and provide opportunities for GPs to upskill.
- Store and forward allows for accessible referrals without scheduling conflicts.
The evidence base for telehealth remains contested. It works best when people are actively involved in their own care and when it is built into wider service redesign. (King’s Fund 2016)
NEW ZEALAND CONTEXT
Telehealth is an important tool in the provision of health care services under the New Zealand Health Strategy. In particular, telehealth services can support self-management of health and engage people wherever they are located (people-powered). Increasing the use of telehealth approaches enables services to be provided to people closer to home. Health information and services can be provided through their own devices (smart system).
Telehealth is one of the Ministry of Health’s strategic eHealth initiatives using technology to better health outcomes for New Zealanders.
The National Telehealth Service provides an integrated platform for people to access health information, advice and support from trained health professionals mostly via phone. Services include: Healthline, Quitline, Alcohol Drug helpline, Depression helpline.