Clinicians across NSW are sharing how they use virtual care to enhance their services. Apply the lessons learnt to your own service to make the most of virtual care.
Our Spotlight on virtual care series is growing, with three additional health services recently sharing how they implement virtual care for their service and patients.
There are now 17 virtual care initiatives in the series, demonstrating the different ways virtual care can be used across care settings.
The Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has partnered with eHealth NSW, local health districts and specialty health networks to showcase local services that are using virtual care. The aim is to share knowledge and inspire others to integrate it into their services.
For example, the services have shared things such as their virtual models of care, workflows, patient journeys. They have also shared their experiences of service design, resourcing and engaging with stakeholders and patients.
Clinicians now have greater access to the technology, support and experiences of colleagues needed to include virtual models of care in your service delivery.
Helping families manage complex feeding problems
The feeding clinic at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead was an in-person service until COVID-19 encouraged the team to introduce virtual care.
Virtually, the clinicians can observe children eating and interacting with their families at home throughout lockdowns. Being in their home environment helped reduce unusual behaviours that can occur when a child visits a hospital clinic, which is unfamiliar to them. This resulted in comprehensive observations and improved the advice clinicians could provide.
“It’s really nice to see the child in their natural environment, interacting with their parents as they usually would,” explains Dr Jacqueline Dalby-Payne, General Paediatrician at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. This is particularly valuable, because a lot of the advice the clinicians give is related to how the parent and child interact around and during meal times.
For parents, virtual care makes things easier and reduces time away from work and school. It has halved non-attendance at the clinic and the service can also see families from all over the state.
Managing severe obesity across an entire local health district
The Nepean Blue Mountains Family Metabolic Health Service assesses and manages severe obesity for children and adults. They have offered virtual care since 2018, which has increased significantly due to COVID-19.
People who have obesity have concerns that significantly impact their access to healthcare, such as stigma, mental health and mobility. Virtual care offers a safe and familiar environment for these patients. The service uses video conferencing and telephone to run individual and group sessions.
It was really helpful to be in a comfortable environment and it was less stressful being able to log on from wherever I was, as opposed to being somewhere at a specific time
The results have been significant:
- Missed appointments have reduced by 45%.
- 66% of people who have received virtual care reported higher satisfaction (compared with those who had not).
- Clinicians can see their patients’ home environment and improve the advice they provide.
- The service no longer needs to manage physical spaces and equipment used for group sessions.
Making clinical pharmacy services available in remote NSW
The Virtual Clinical Pharmacy Service provides health facilities in Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts with clinical pharmacy services if there is no onsite access. The service covers rural hospitals, multipurpose facilities and nurse-only remote clinics across an area of almost 450,000km2.
The pharmacist is a virtual member of the clinical team who helps medical officers and nurses make informed medication-related decisions. The pharmacist can also speak to the patient virtually.
The model has resulted in:
- improved facility compliance with national medication safety standards
- enhanced continuity of care and medication management for patients
- better shared decision-making between pharmacists and patients.