Over a six-week period in April and May this year, Bendigo Health in regional Victoria conducted roughly 2700 telehealth outpatient appointments across the Loddon Mallee region. Compared to a year prior to the six-week period, only 187 telehealth appointments were conducted.

The departments that contributed to this huge increase include Oncology (1010 appointments), Child and Acute Mental Health Services (352 appointments), Outpatient Rehabilitation (220 appointments), Speech Pathology (103 appointments) and Midwife Services (78 appointments).

As such, Bendigo Health plans to re-evaluate the role of telehealth in its model of care after a huge uptake in the service during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recently surveyed the telehealth experience of 41 oncology patients and 76% indicated they would like telehealth to be an ongoing option for certain appointments.

THE LARGER TREND

Given the surge in the popularity of telehealth in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are considering to integrate more of these services in the near future. For example at Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital, video-consultation sessions starting with the hospital’s psychiatry unit have been implemented to ensure that patients get their care remotely, Healthcare IT News reported.

Bendigo Health also rolled out a cloud-based remote monitoring system for suspected COVID-19 patients, which supplies doctors and nurses with a dashboard of daily updated symptoms and health vitals to remotely stay on top of their patients’ health.

ON THE RECORD

“In the future we do believe there’s a number of appointments that can and should be done virtually for patient conveniences and the efficiency of our service,” said Peter Faulkner, Chief Executive of Bendigo Health.  

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