Making connections as part of Telehealth Week

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  • Telehealth appointments are up by 35 percent
  • There were more than 250,000 non-admitted telehealth service events in 2021-22

Telehealth appointments are booming in popularity throughout the Torres Strait and Cape York with residents relishing their digital and virtual care options.

E-appointment numbers in the region have jumped by more than 30 per cent in the past 12 months, as locals realise the benefits of being able to see their specialists from the comfort of their home or local clinic, rather than travelling to Cairns or further afield.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service patients have attended a total of 633 telehealth appointments between July and September this year, compared to 480 for the same period in 2021.

Paediatrics and nephrology (kidney related diseases) have been the most common specialist e-appointments over the past few years in the region.

Across Queensland there were more than 250,000 non-admitted telehealth service events in 2021-22, up 35 per cent from the previous year.

The growth of the TCHHS Telehealth service is being highlighted as part of Telehealth Awareness Week which is running this year from 23-29 October.

This year’s message, “expanding our connections”, is particularly relevant for the Torres, Cape and Northern Peninsula Area regions with patients on outer islands now able to regularly connect via video with specialists thousands of kilometres away.

TCHHS Acting Executive Director Allied Health Ricky Proudfoot said being able to keep people in their communities rather than taking several flights to see their specialist was a huge benefit.

“Often these trips would involve several flights and overnight stays which can be particularly onerous for those with serious illness or children,” he said.

“Obviously there will always be times when clinicians need to see their patients in person, but Telehealth is such an incredible tool for those in our remote communities, especially for increasing access to specialist clinics and services.”

TCHHS Chief Executive Beverly Hamerton said telehealth was available at all TCHHS Primary Health Care Centres and hospitals and were among more than 200 systems in Queensland.

She said the program continued to expand and could be used in almost any clinical setting – from cardiology to mental health.

“It is so exciting our patients are not disadvantaged in their access to top medical treatment due to where they live,” she said.

“This expansion of virtual care of which telehealth forms part of the digital solution, will also help reduce pressures on the health system across Queensland.”