NSLHD News June 4

NSLHD RAMPS UP TELEHEALTH More than 2000 clinicians across Northern Sydney Local Health District are turning to telehealth at a rate never seen before to deliver healthcare during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. In April this year there was more than 28,100* occasions of telehealth service across the district, almost triple the 9445 occasions in February. Within the last few months clinicians across the district are increasingly using telehealth to deliver clinical care and education to patients via telecommunication technologies such as live video and phone conferencing. Dr Venessa Tsang Staff Specialist in Endocrinology at Royal North Shore Hospital said the Diabetes and Endocrinology unit has rapidly increased its use of telehealth to review patients, hold group patient education sessions, and educate other clinicians. “As well as our one-on-one telehealth appointments, we are doing more group sessions for patients, such as for Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes, and more education sessions for nursing staff including glucose management up-skilling,” Dr Tsang said. “While we have the technology to work around seeing most patients in-person, we are still at the hospital for urgent medical conditions and will still see patients where required, such as for initiation of insulin pumps and for injectable medications. Patients should not avoid hospital presentations for urgent matters. “The feedback from our patients has been really positive with many enjoying not having to come into the hospital for their appointments whilst still receiving high- quality care.” Diabetes and Endocrinology is one of a number of departments actively using

Dr Venessa Tsang

telehealth within the district. At Royal North Shore Hospital alone in March more than 5000 consultations were conducted via videoconference and telephone rather than in-person, an increase of about 180 per cent from February. NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said the district has had to increase its telehealth capacity significantly in response to COVID-19 and what would normally take months to set up and get working properly has been achieved in a matter of weeks. “The number of clinicians signing up to telehealth services is only increasing and it has become part of the way we deliver care and services so they continue to deliver healthcare safely,” Ms Willcox said. “It’s an amazing effort by all our staff who have had to look at other ways they can deliver services amid the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. “While telehealth is providing many with care from the comfort of their own home, our hospitals are still open and safe for those who are sick and require critical care.” *Data is preliminary and figures are subject to change as services complete data corrections.

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