A new series of resources shines a light on virtual care initiatives across the state. The benefits and lessons learnt are highlighted to share with the health sector.
Virtual care, also known as telehealth, has been used to deliver care to patients for decades. Now, more than ever, virtual care is vital to delivering patient-centred care to the people of NSW during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virtual care safely connects health professionals with patients to deliver care when and where it is needed. It no longer stands apart from in-person care and is often integrated into services that see patients and clients in person.
The Spotlight on virtual care initiatives series was part of the Virtual Care Accelerator (VCA), a cross-agency program dedicated to advancing the uptake of virtual care across NSW. The VCA was a collaboration between the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI), eHealth NSW, the local health districts and speciality health networks.
“The series aims to inspire healthcare providers and health managers to adopt and integrate virtual care into their own services,” explains Rachael Sinclair, Project Manager, Virtual Care at the ACI.
“The resources were created with local teams and outline key learnings and considerations from those who have implemented virtual care.”
Developing the series
The series features virtual care initiatives from metropolitan, regional, rural and remote NSW.
- outline how health services have adopted virtual care as part of routine care
- highlight the lessons learnt and benefits for patients, clinicians and health services.
The series showcases the different ways that virtual care can delivered. This can include using the telephone, videoconferencing, remote monitoring and store and forward (for example email). Virtual care is often delivered using a combination of these modalities.
The series was produced using a collaborative stakeholder engagement and content development process:
- Local health districts and specialty health networks submitted their virtual care initiative to the VCA.
- The VCA prioritised the submissions with experts, including clinicians and representatives from the ACI and eHealth NSW, who identified priority services for documentation.
- The content was drafted and produced with the local teams. It was informed by information collected through virtual meetings, review of documentation and more than 25 site visits, involving service observations and interviews with clinicians, patients and executives.
The ACI visited more than 25 sites to develop the series.
Gabrielle Gonzalez, Virtual Care Project Support Officer at the ACI, travelled across NSW to help develop the series. "It was great seeing how virtual care is used on the ground, particularly in the rural districts,” she says.
“Local health staff, patients and carers all have their own unique perspectives on virtual care. Their experience and insights are invaluable."
ACI staff Emily Gregg and Gabrielle Gonzalez at Gilgandra Multi Purpose Service with a Wallie, a videoconferencing machine used for virtual care.
Spotlight on in-home monitoring in far west NSW
In far west NSW, virtual care is being used to monitor people with chronic conditions in their own home.
Chenny cares for her dad Mal, a client of the Chronic and Complex Care Team at Broken Hill Hospital. “[Remote monitoring] really helped him to stay at home and get better at home… he’s going to recover much quicker in his own environment,” she says.
Watch the video and learn more about this initiative from Chenny and the clinicians involved.