Clinician Connect

Embedding virtual care as part of routine care

By Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque and Dr Zoran Bolevich

30 Aug 2021 Reading time approximately

As the community experiences another COVID-19 outbreak, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and eHealth NSW – alongside all other organisations within the NSW Health system – are working together to respond to system needs.

Virtual care is a priority area for the system and our work in accelerating its use in clinical settings has been supported enthusiastically by local health districts and specialty health networks across NSW during the past 12 months.

This latest outbreak has shown, once again, that accelerating the uptake of virtual care is not just a long-term solution; it is a short-term imperative.

Last year, NSW Health initiated the Virtual Care Accelerator – a cross-agency initiative to leverage the momentum gained in the adoption of virtual care throughout the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

Through the Accelerator, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and eHealth NSW worked together to develop the technology and technical expertise needed to increase the capability of the health system to adopt virtual care more rapidly.

Healthcare professionals have been using technology to deliver care to patients for decades. Now, with advances in technology, the support for health professionals and benefits for patients are even greater.

eHealth NSW has been laying the infrastructure foundations across the state to support rapid acceleration of virtual care technology for many years. The work of the Accelerator has been to support districts and networks as part of the pandemic response, and to use virtual care modalities as part of routine care. We are now seeing virtual care used across a wide range of clinical areas – in allied health, intensive care, stroke care, rehabilitation and many other settings.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Health, local health districts and specialty health networks to build on existing initiatives; support clinical change; and increase capability and access to virtual care across the health system. As part of the Accelerator, a series of local case studies were gathered to shine a light on the successful virtual care initiatives across the state.

We would like to thank the clinical teams who contributed to this important foundation work, especially under the significant constraints that a pandemic environment places on everyone.

Driving patient-centred care

Importantly, we can now say,

virtual care is care – it is a viable, ongoing option for clinicians and the community.

Virtual care is a driver for positive patient experiences. It enables us to build a resilient health system that provides patient-centred care, no matter where a patient lives and regardless of their circumstances.

There are a range of virtual care modalities available for clinicians to deliver patient consultations virtually. In particular, the implementation of myVirtual Care is a key platform enabling us to embed virtual care across NSW Health.

It provides a lot more functionality than just a phone or video connection – clinicians can manage outpatient consultations and facilitate virtual consultations as part of clinical flows. It is responsive to patients as if it were a true waiting room.

There are many examples of how districts and networks are embedding virtual care and the benefits throughout this edition of Clinician Connect. In particular, we feature our new series of resources that shines a light on successful virtual care initiatives across the state.

For more information about virtual care and to access a range of resources, visit the Agency for Clinical Innovation website.

About the authors

Dr Jean-Frédéric Levesque is the Chief Executive of the Agency for Clinical Innovation.

Dr Zoran Bolevich is the Chief Executive of eHealth NSW.

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