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08.06.2017 16:54 Age: 230 days

Margaret sees telehealth changing lives


DHAC group visiting the local telehealth suite: Glenn Jones, Amy Ryan, Derek Fraser and Margaret Pike.

Geraldton resident Margaret Pike has seen first-hand how health problems affect country people.

And she has seen how the increasing use of telehealth services is taking the trauma of travel out of their recovery.

Margaret used to work in the health system, and now that she is retired she is a passionate member of the Geraldton District Health Advisory Committee (DHAC).

Margaret encouraged people to utilise the telehealth services as much as possible, because she sees how much better people’s lives are when they can reduce their travel.

“Telehealth is vital to country people – especially when they have to travel such a long way for five or ten minute appointments with their doctors in Perth,” she said.

“With the trauma of leaving family and work to travel to Perth, patients’ recovery is so much better when they can just speak to their specialist using the videoconferencing equipment at their local hospital.

“There are huge cost savings – both for patients and for the health system.

“It is the way of the future.”

Margaret’s comments come during the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week June 12–16.

The statewide campaign was initiated by the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) to raise the profile of telehealth and ensure more people benefit from it.

Telehealth works by allowing people who are isolated from their specialist or health care worker to carry out their appointment by high-quality videoconference or telephone.

“Videoconferences are just like meeting your specialist in person except you don’t have to leave town – and in some cases you don’t even have to leave your home,” WACHS Chief Operating Officer Strategy and Reform Melissa Vernon said.

“Feedback from people who use telehealth tells us that most found it as effective as an in-person consultation and they said it saved them time and money.”

Appointments by telehealth are now available for a wide range of outpatient services and at many country locations, including hospitals, health centres, Community Resource Centres and telehealth-enabled GP surgeries.

To find out more about telehealth, ask your specialist, GP or health professional or visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/telehealth