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New age version of a doctor’s house call

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister of Health

4 September 2013

New age version of a doctor’s house call

New telemedicine video conferencing equipment is being trialled in Opotiki to reduce how far and often patients have to travel to see a doctor.

Health Minister Tony Ryall will launch the new telemedicine initiative this afternoon with East Coast MP Anne Tolley – streaming live from Wellington using the new video technology.

“Video gear and ultra-fast broadband have been installed in many general practices, rest homes and also in some GPs’ own homes across Opotiki,” says Mr Ryall.

“Telemedicine is great for patients and their families. It gives patients better access to medical care with less travel and less inconvenience.

“In the past, if people needed to see a GP in Te Kaha they had to wait for an appointment or faced a long drive to Opotiki, as their GP is only onsite a few days a week. Thanks to telemedicine, they will soon be able to see a doctor in Opotiki via a video connection from their local health centre on the days their own GP isn’t available.

“People living in rest homes in Opotiki will soon be able to receive ‘new age’ house calls from their doctor. Instead of transporting an elderly person to the health centre, doctors will in some cases be able to speak to their patients via a video connection at the rest home.

“Nurses at the Opotiki health centre will be able to consult with doctors at their homes after hours, or with the emergency department at Whakatane Hospital to determine if a patient can be safely treated in Opotiki or should be transferred to Whakatane Hospital.

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“Follow-up appointments between Opotiki patients and hospital specialists will become possible via video where it is not necessary for the doctor and patient to physically be in the same location,” says Mr Ryall.

The Opotiki Telehealth Community project is a joint initiative between the National Health IT Board, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.


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