Regional GP Dr Damien Zilm was in Laverton when Medical Forum spoke to him about Telehealth Awareness week, which takes place between June 25 and 29. He put his hand up happily to be a spokesperson for the week, which was organised by WA Country Healthy Service, because he sees what a huge difference it has made to the outcomes of his patients particularly in remote locations such as Laverton.
As the acceptance of telehealth grows among GPs and specialists, he also sees greater communication and collaboration between primary and specialist clinicians, which can only serve the patient well. Damien is both a provider and a user of telehealth as he goes on his rounds between Leonora and Laverton in the remote Goldfields, and also at the Northam Emergency Department and the Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS).
He said telehealth enabled him to give more integrated care to remote patients who are seeing a specialist. “Telehealth helps people to stay in their own community, helps them stay connected to their own GP, and allows the GP to incorporate the specialist’s care plan into their own management, so all of us are on the same page.”
- More than 18,000 country outpatient appointments were conducted via the WA telehealth network as well as more than 7000 mental health services.
- Rural and remote patients use telehealth for more than 30 specialties including oncology, surgical follow-up, respiratory medicine, haematology, orthopaedics as well as education for chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
- The Emergency Telehealth Service conducted more than 17,000 consultations