The Northern Territory is demonstrating its nation leading ehealth work with a new video showcasing the integration of telehealth consultations with shared electronic health records (PCEHR) in Aboriginal communities.
Bridging the Digital Divide presents the care journey of a person in a remote community requiring a mixture of primary and secondary care for a serious injury.
Making use of the Territory’s My eHealth Record and its “Health eTowns” Telehealth Program, the patient receives treatment from a remote area nurse with real time clinical review and advice remotely from a doctor and a specialist burns nurse in Darwin over the course of their infirmity.
Speaking with ehealthspace.org, the NT Dept of Health’s Director of strategic ehealth systems, Jackie Plunkett, explained the importance of using shared care records in conjunction with telehealth. “The two go hand in hand. I’m a firm believer that you can’t have one without the other because when combined they make a powerful service delivery mechanism.”
The My eHealth Record has demonstrated the value of an EHR system once it reaches critical mass, with approximately 50,000 patients registered and clinicians using the system a rate of 30,000 patient record views per month.
Additionally, over two thirds of these views take place in a primary care setting, helping to take pressure of the hospital system.
By comparison Ms Plunkett said the telehealth program is still in its early stages, but even so it is now being used in 47 remote communities, all regional hospitals in the Territory plus six hospitals in the WA Kimberley region.
“It’s a growing field. Some of the services commonly performed at remote clinics with the use of telehealth include pre-admission and post surgical assessments. Renal reviews are also being introduced at the moment.”
Ms Plunkett said another important aspect for the indigenous community of both telehealth and the My eHealth Record is the ability to treat people with dignity and cultural sensitivity.
This can be particularly important in the healthcare setting where the urgency of a situation can make communication difficult for a patient having to deal with linguistic and cultural differences, she said.
“My eHealth Record has been a great cultural fit, hence its widespread adoption. And the uptake of telehealth thus far in remote communities has likewise been incredible.”
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Bridging the Digital Divide has been produced by the Northern Territory Government Department of Health with additional funding from the federal Digital Regions Initiative.
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