The coronavirus pandemic has caused many disruptions to our healthcare, however there have been some positive developments too.
As we wait for a vaccine, GPs and health providers have looked at other ways to provide ongoing care and support to their patients, including offering telehealth services.
St.LukesHealth recognised this and in April 2020, announced that it would implement benefits for telehealth consultations for dietetics, speech therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry, exercise physiology, clinical psychology, counselling and physiotherapy.
In June 2020, we announced we would continue to support this health measure beyond COVID-19.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM USING TELEHEALTH?
It is important that you know that you are in control of the delivery of your healthcare needs.
We realise that telehealth consultations are not for everyone. If you feel more comfortable seeing your health provider face-to-face, that is OK too.
When you have a telehealth consultation, it is reasonable that your health provider guarantees the security of your personal health information and explains the systems used to maintain your confidentiality. If your health provider cannot guarantee this information, you are within your rights not to accept a telehealth consultation.
Sometimes, your health provider may want to record your telehealth consultation. To do this, you must give consent to do so. If you are uncomfortable with your telehealth consultation being recorded, you can refuse.
Some health providers have developed brochures and information on telehealth consultations.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE FOR A TELEHEALTH CONSULTATION?
Patient safety is a key focus for health providers and should be for you too.
If you are receiving a telehealth consultation in the privacy of your own home, you should ensure that you have a quiet and safe space to do so and that your equipment is set up for the session.
If your telehealth consultation involves your health provider observing you exercising or doing a movement, choose a room clear of clutter with the appropriate equipment. If you need a person to assist you with your exercises so that you do not injure yourself, this should be organised before the telehealth consultation.
HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF MY TELEHEALTH CONSULTATION?
To maximise your telehealth consultation, it is important that you and your health provider are prepared prior to the session.
You should ensure:
- That you have a device appropriate for the telehealth consultation, for example, an iPad or laptop.
- Have the appointment details, including a link to the telehealth consultation.
- Conduct any sound and microphone testing prior to the telehealth consultation
- Make sure you login to your telehealth consultation on time
- Understand what equipment you need for the telehealth consultation
- Have a back-up plan if the technology fails, for example, can you call your health provider and talk over the phone?
Telehealth consultations can provide an opportunity for St.LukesHealth members to access timely care in situations where it is clinically appropriate and you may be unable to access your health provider due to distance.
With these simple points in mind, a telehealth consultation can be as beneficial as a face-to-face consultation.
Luke Cameron, St.LukesHealth Head of Clinical Services