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QUESTEK INTRODUCES AUSTRALIA'S
FIRST WiFi NURSE CALL SYSTEM
The article appeared online in the April
16 edition of the Archives of Internal
Medicine, along with an editorial by Dr
Scott Wilson and Dr Peter Cram, in which
they argue it "joins a growing body of
literature suggesting that home telehealth
does not reduce [hospital] readmissions or
[emergency department] visits".
Dr Wilson and Dr Cram point out that
"subtle differences in strategy and training of
telehealth providers" could affect the results
dramatically, and Dr Takahashi recommends
that "physicians and funding organisations
... evaluate which patient groups might be
most responsive and which implementation
strategies will be most useful".
Tyas makes the same point, in response
to a question about whether home
telehealth could benefit anybody.
"You have to be clear about who is
going to benefit and I think that initially,
in the first stages of this, it's about being
absolutely clear and identifying the right
patients who will get the benefits," he says.
"That will be around a certain number
of conditions to start with, but then you
move on and you look at different things,
like exactly what we've done. We've not
sat still; we've carried on. We've looked at
different conditions, different illnesses."
Given that research continues,
perhaps more important than positive
findings from the WSD will be a good
understanding of exactly how those
specific outcomes were achieved, and in
Tyas can also go into
impressive detail about
what has been learnt from
the project beyond the
hard data on mortality
rates, cost reductions and
Backed up by results
presented to ITAC
2012 by the Australian
Professor Len Gray, Tyas
says concerns about
remote monitoring being
cold and impersonal did
not eventuate. Quite
the opposite in fact; the
systems were said to
make patients feel more 'cared for'.
"They actually feel that somebody's
looking out for them, and they get a call if
something's going wrong," Tyas says. "...And
they also know they can phone us and have
a conversation with a nurse, quite quickly,
and that's really valuable for people."
And he says GPs in the UK are also
coming around to the idea, with well over
half of those approached agreeing to
take part in the Cornwall trial. Most who
declined wanted to wait for more proof
that it would benefit patients, which Tyas
describes as a 'chicken and egg problem'.
"It is a challenge [to get GPs involved]
and I'd like to say we're completely there
but we're not. You know,
we still do have people
that are against telehealth
and there are still people
that will challenge the
evidence, but we've got
a lot of people that are
really starting to get
on board; people are
changing their beliefs."
He says without
technology to improve
efficiency in healthcare,
"things are going to start
to fall over, because we
wont have enough people,
we won't have another
method to deliver this
care, and the health
system will break".
"But it's not just about the technology.
The technology is actually only a really small
part; it's about changing the way you deliver
care. Technology enables you to do that, but
it's the change that needs to happen."
That change -- to the brave new world of
'preventive healthcare' -- is also underway,
but it requires us all to look after ourselves
a lot more. Tyas is convinced that with the
right information and support, people will.
"Actually what you find when you get
people in and using the technology is that
as long as it's simple, intuitive, and you
spend the right amount of time training
and educating them, they can really get it
and it's not really a barrier at all." n
AAA | JULY -- AUGUST 2012 | 41
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