Telehealth saves Bill money, miles and marriage

June 13, 2017

Bill Flavel jokes that telehealth might be keeping his marriage together.

“I have advanced MS and I’m legally blind so I meet with three Perth specialists – which means a lot of drama for my wife with driving to the city,” the Narrogin resident said.

“Any time Jenny and I don’t have to go near the city is great.”

Photo of telehealth patientBill, pictured (right) with Jenny, meets regularly with his neurologist at Royal Perth Hospital by telehealth from the relative comfort of nearby Narrogin Health Service.

Previously, to meet with his specialist, Jenny would have had to drive 200km to the city, and park and navigate them around the hospital in Bill’s manual wheelchair as his electronic chair doesn’t fit in their sedan.

“With telehealth, we just go up to the local primary health service, hook-up on the screen and I can see my specialist and speak to her.

“I must have had eight telehealth video calls with my neurologist at RPH already, so we’ve saved about 3200km travelling, buying petrol and wearing out motor cars.”

Bill and Jenny’s story is highlighted in new telehealth promotional materials being launched during the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week June 12–16.

The statewide campaign was initiated by the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) to raise the profile of telehealth and ensure more people benefit from it.

Telehealth works by allowing people who are isolated from their specialist or health care worker to carry out their appointment by telephone or high-quality videoconference.

“Videoconferences are just like meeting your specialist in person except you don’t have to leave town – and in some cases you don’t even have to leave your home,” WACHS Chief Operating Officer Strategy and Reform Melissa Vernon said.

“Feedback from people who use telehealth tells us that most found it as effective as an in-person consultation, saving time and money.”

Appointments by telehealth are now available for a wide range of outpatient services and at many country locations, including hospitals, health centres, Community Resource Centres and telehealth-enabled GP surgeries.

Telehealth Awareness Week is funded through the Southern Inland Health Initiative’s Clinical Telehealth Services supported by Royalties for Regions.

To find out more about telehealth, ask your specialist, GP, or health professional or visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/telehealth.