Telehealth consultations are medical appointments using video conferencing equipment and software. A Telehealth consultation connects an aged care facility resident with a medical specialist so that they can see and hear each other without having to be in the same place. In general, portable equipment such as an iPad or a laptop with a web camera, videoconferencing software and an internet connection is all that is needed.
There are many benefits to Telehealth appointments especially in regards to those who find it difficult to leave their residence but this is particularly pertinent in these times when it is imperative to protect our most vulnerable from exposure to COVID-19.
Telehealth software provides the ability to create a video connection between two different devices such as an iPad and a laptop. A fast internet connection will be needed in order to ensure video quality.
EMPHN are providing support to general practices wanting to use telehealth for consultations by running a trial using the Healthdirect Video Call platform until 30/9/20. HealthDirect Video call is a FREE easy-to-use, trusted and reliable telehealth option for both GPs and patients to conduct video-consultations.
Guide on how to use HealthDirect Video Call can be found here.
Benefits to this service include:
- GPs and patients can log in via a browser on any device – (this could also be used in the Aged Care Facility with the client/resident)
- Encrypted video technology (WebRTC)
- Ability to invite other clinicians, carers or interpreters
- Clinicians and patient can share their screen concurrently
- Secure virtual waiting room with text/e-mail alerts notifying clinicians when a patient has arrived or waiting
Telehealth consultations have the same ethical standards applied to them as face-to-face medical appointments, and therefore you will need to ensure the consent of the resident, or their family/next of kin, is obtained as per your usual treatment consent procedures. It is very important that the people at each site know who is at the other end and that everyone in the room has been introduced. Finding out there is someone in the distant room who is out of view and hasn’t been introduced can be very uncomfortable for participants, as well as being a potential breach of privacy.
Video communication can sometimes feel awkward or artificial. If you’d like some further suggestions on what to do during a videoconference, read the Video consultation etiquette factsheet by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
Take a few minutes to have a short debrief with the resident. Ask how they found the Telehealth appointment and if they have any questions or feedback.