Telehealth helps regional health

While the COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of everyday life, one of the silver linings was the integration and normalisation of telehealth into day-to-day healthcare.

Telehealth has allowed those living with chronic conditions to continue to get the care they needconnected allied health students to remote students and in one region of Western Australia, allowed people to continue to get the care they need without having to travel vast distances.

Taking on an offer of assistance from WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), in mid 2020, Kalannie based podiatrist Sally Sanderson began to use telehealth as a means of continuing care with those that needed it.

“Initially I was using services like Skype and Facetime, but eventually began to use the Healthdirect Video Call Platform which replicates a professional consultation better,” she said.

“A lot of the consults were educational and diagnostic, with patients outlining the area of pain via images, videos and explanations.

“When we overcome the real and perceived barriers in the use of telehealth, the possibilities are incredible and always take both recipients and providers by surprise. Having extensively researched the use of telepodiatry, in a masters dissertation, I was lucky that the learning curve was less steep for me, when the need to rely on telehealth presented.”

As a member of WAPHA’s Regional Clinical Committee since its inception, Mrs Sanderson provides insight into the importance of podiatry and allied health services in rural and remote areas.

She also uses her position on the committee to advocate strongly for rural and remote residents to have access to the same degree of health services as their metropolitan counterparts.

WAPHA’s Regional Manager Wheatbelt, Melissa Spark said Dr Sanderson was a positive force in the region and willing to move with technology and adopt change.

“With a limited workforce in the Wheatbelt, she sees that and tries to spread herself further and to show others what’s possible,” she said.

“While face to face visits are still preferable for many patients, telehealth can be an effective alternative, particularly in regional Western Australia.”

WAPHA staff have been trained to remotely assist general practices to connect with and utilise the video call platform.

Practices wishing to find out more and register for Healthdirect Video Call should visit Practice Assist.