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Vascular service makes appointments convenient and greener

Better use of technology is making hospital appointments more convenient for hundreds of patients and helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Capital & Coast DHB’s vascular service – which focuses on treating problems involving arteries and veins – sees patients from across the Wellington region and beyond, with some patients coming from as far away as south Taranaki to attend an appointment at Wellington Regional Hospital.

“There is a high personal, social, and environmental cost involved in having to travel to our clinics. Many of our patients are also elderly and frail, or have mobility issues,” said Vascular Surgery clinical lead Richard Evans.

“We began looking at how we could reduce some of those costs for our patients, and make it less stressful and arduous to use our service. With patient numbers growing, we also saw an opportunity to reduce patient travel and shrink our carbon footprint.”

To that end, the service trialled telehealth clinics where appropriate patients were phoned or video-conferenced by the vascular surgeon – removing the need for long car or bus journeys for what could sometimes be only a five-minute appointment.

“While there will always be some patients who will need to be seen in person, vascular scenarios are often fairly routine. This means that a phone or video-conference interaction is perfectly appropriate for many others.”

Going forward, the service expects around 100-120 patients to have these types of consultation each month.

“The general reaction has been overwhelmingly positive – elderly patients are delighted not to have to travel, younger patients are delighted not to have to take time off work, and our service is pleased to have done away with a huge amount of unnecessary travel and pollution. There is absolutely potential for more healthcare to be delivered this way in the future.”

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