19 Jan 2021
What have we learnt about healthcare delivery during the pandemic and what role will telehealth play in the future delivery of care?
In the latest episode of the Taking care podcast, host Tash Miles continues the conversation about telehealth with physiotherapist Joel Stephens from Western Australia, Victorian healthcare consumer Kate Ellis, and Tasmanian GP Dr Maureen Ryan.
As Dr Ryan explains, the sudden change to life and healthcare delivery care took a bit of adjusting for everyone.
‘Not to have face-to-face, purely over the phone, my biggest concerns were how do you make sure you don’t miss out on important things and to what extent would patients take up that change. It’s a big shift for patients and practitioners,’ Dr Ryan said.
Transiting from a very tactile physiotherapy consultation to one via technology was a concern. Mr Stevens said at the beginning he had lots of questions about how it would work: ‘How much could we gather information through observation and discussion and not touch? How would it impact our rapport and relationships with patients?’
Patients adapted and in some cases, thrived. Ms Ellis lives with cystic fibrosis and has significant experience with health services, including regular contact with health practitioners. She found the move to telehealth to be a huge positive.
‘Communication was great. [It was] great to not drive for over an hour to an appointment, organise childcare... brilliant to be able to have such easy access to my health professionals.’
‘Ours is an older cohort – many over the age of 65 and 85 – so I didn’t think they would be interested at all in wanting to take up a new skill but they were all excited to try it. More so than what I thought,’ Mr Stevens adds.
The focus on healthcare delivery via phone or online removed many geographical barriers for practitioners and patients.
‘We're not limited to Tasmania now, we can think of anyone nationally now for specialist appointments,’ Dr Ryan explains.
To hear what aspects of telehealth they hope will remain as part of healthcare beyond the pandemic and the potential for improving care for regional patients and vulnerable communities, download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast episode today.
Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.