26 Apr 2020

DHBs take outpatient appointments online

5:59 pm on 26 April 2020

District health boards say that by using digital technology, they have processed thousands of outpatient appointments that would have been cancelled during the lockdown.


Photo: 123RF

Waitematā has extended the rollout of its virtual appointment system through video to advise patients.

Northland is offering antenatal classes via video and Facebook Live sessions to help expectant parents get ready.

And Auckland and Counties Manukau are using extended telephone consultations to monitor patients with ongoing health needs.

"Patients appreciate the convenience of having a consultation from the comfort of their own homes, without needing to worry about transport, parking and finding their way," Waitematā DHB chief executive Dr Dale Bramley said.

"In some services, such as diabetes, we have had amazing success, with a lower rate of cancellation than would normally be the case as our patients embrace the offer of appointments via Zoom and other digital platforms. More than 90 percent of appointments in this service have gone ahead during lockdown and our diabetic patients have continued to receive the support they need to manage their condition effectively."

Bramley, who heads the northern region's Covid-19 campaign, said the methods used will shape the future health system.

"While face-to-face appointments will always be important and these will continue to be available, it's likely we will offer more digital or telehealth services where there is no actual need for the patient to come to hospital to meet face-to-face with a health professional," he said

"In many cases, a video consultation will enable the clinician to get a good understanding of the patient's condition. It also offers the chance for the patient to look at their results on the screen while the doctor explains the information to them.

"Out of the adversity of Covid-19 and lockdown, we have made advances in the way we deliver healthcare that will shape our system for years to come."

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