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Cardiology telemedicine clinic launches in Dunstan Hospital

06 March 2017

Cardiology telemedicine clinic launches in Dunstan Hospital

Cardiology patients in Central Otago will save time, money and hundreds of kilometres of travel thanks to a new telemedicine clinic between Dunstan Hospital and the Southern District Health Board.

The virtual clinic means that in many instances patients recovering from heart surgery, catheterisation, or receiving other specialist care can stay close to home and still receive cardiology consultation from a Dunedin-based clinician via video link.

“We are very excited about the potential for cardiology telemedicine and believe it will improve health outcomes for patients in Central Otago,” says Dr Darri Karlsson, a consultant cardiologist with Southern DHB who helped to coordinate the creation of the clinic. “We currently hold regular cardiology clinics in Dunstan every month, which we will continue to do. However, this new service will mean even greater support for cardiology patients in the central Otago area.”

The cardiology telemedicine clinic in Clyde, Central Otago, is staffed by specially-trained nurses, who take blood pressure, ECGs and other measurements and support the patient during the appointment. The patient and Dunedin-based cardiologist interact very much that same as they would in a face-to-face check-up.

“The patient sees the same cardiologist who’s already treated them in Dunedin, so the patient-doctor relationship is maintained,” says Dr Karlsson, explaining that that first specialist appointments and surgical care are still provided in Dunedin.

The cardiology telemedicine clinics follows on the success of juvenile diabetes telemedicine and obstetrics clinics which Southern DHB delivers in Dunstan and in Queenstown, respectively.

Debi Lawry, Dunstan Hospital Director of Nursing said the new clinic will be a significant benefit to patients and families in Central Otago: “When someone has to travel from Central to Dunedin for a short specialist consultation it can mean seven or eight hours of driving, and sometimes require a support person. This may mean lost wages as well as travel expenses. Providing access to these specialists locally, using telemedicine technologies, will greatly relieve this burden on individuals.”

Dr Karlsson said that research into telehealth in other jurisdictions, such as Australia and Europe, indicates that that the majority of patients - including older patients - often prefer telemedicine clinics to traveling for specialist appointments.

“I think this will be a very good experience for patients in Central Otago and if it is successful, I could see us expanding it to other parts of the district in the coming years as well,” he said.

With its large geographical size and widely dispersed population, the Southern district is well-suited to include telemedicine as part of its overall model of healthcare delivery, says Chris Fleming, Southern DHB.

“We’re committed to providing care closer to home and valuing people’s time and these two teams from Dunedin and Dunstan have worked together to keep the patient and patient needs at the centre of care,” Mr Fleming said. “This is innovative healthcare.”


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