Telehealth in remote areas in NZ using videoconferencing

click to enlarge“When patient Whiti Fletcher went to Kaitaia Hospital’s renal unit for her regular dialysis, she had the complication of chest pains. Through a videoconferencing link, Mrs Fletcher was assessed by a renal specialist at Whangarei Hospital, who decided she was able to have dialysis at the unit in Kaitaia as planned, rather than face the four-hour return trip to Whangarei Hospital.” This is the example presented by the IT Health Board of the New Zealand Ministry of Health when describing the use of telehealth in the sparsely populated northern region of the New Zealand’s North Island.

Videoconferencing is bringing the benefits of telecommunications to health in remote areas in Australia and New Zealand. Northland, for example, is an area of 12,500 square kilometers with a population of just 150,000 and travel to specialist health facilities can be onorous, very time consuming and expensive. In a recent video uploaded to You Tube, Northland District Health Board Nephrologist Dr Walaa Saweirs describes the use of telehealth for outpatient appointments when flights are delayed or cancelled and for consulting with doctors in Auckland for transplant reviews and radiology assessments. See the video here.

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