DIGITAL CLINIC REVOLUTIONISING HEALTHCARE Taking days off to visit the doctor is a reality for any transplant recipient, but a new telehealth system debuting at Royal North Shore Hospital means days off could be a thing of the past.
An initiative of the renal transplant team led by Dr Stella McGinn, the online clinic using the Pexip platform has been a hit with both patients and physicians. “Regular check-ups for transplant recipients are a fact of life, but as people get older, move away, have kids or get new jobs, making it to these appointments can be hard,” she said. “We develop lifelong relationships and bonds with our patients, so it’s always ideal to keep them in our care. “The use of online clinics for the right patients is a good way to reduce impact on their lives while making sure they are still in the best of health.” Mother of two Linda Fletcher is one of those benefitting from the telehealth clinics. The clinical research trainer has had two kidney transplants, the most recent coming in 2003, and still needs an appointment to monitor her progress every three months. “It’s great because there is not much disruption to our routine. I’ve got young boys and I work so being able to have my appointment from the comfort of my own home is ideal, not just for me but my family as well,” she said. “Going to the appointments takes a fair bit of scheduling, my husband sometimes has to book leave and I have to travel about five hours by train from Winmalee in the Blue Mountains.
“I can usually work from the train when I travel to my appointments but this way I can still make it in time for pick up.” The 47-year-old had her first online appointment last month and plans to continue to use the service going forward. “It was a little bit different, but it went really well – I didn’t feel like I missed out at all,” Ms Fletcher said. “I set myself up at my computer at home, but I know I can also use my phone or laptop. The program used for the appointment is fairly straight forward and intuitive, but of course that depends on the person.
“It gives you freedom, it’s a great service.”
Dr McGinn said even patients requiring blood tests and other pathology could arrange to do so through their local GP, with results being shared with the clinic at Royal North Shore. “Of course some patients will need to come in for a physical and others will want to keep coming to see us in person as they have always done,” she said. “But this is a great option for some patients so they can get back to living their life post-transplant with as little disruption as possible.”
Dr Stella McGinn
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