Southern DHB appoints telehealth coordinator, plans to increase uptake among services


Southern DHB is signalling a stronger commitment to providing health services closer to people’s homes and improving access to specialist care with the appointment of Sandra Brough as its new Telehealth Coordinator.


Invercargill-based IT programmes’ project manager Sandra Brough has been seconded to the role as Telehealth Coordinator, helping services across the DHB to include telehealth clinics and consultations as part of patient care and support. The DHB is working closely with primary health network WellSouth for ongoing development and encouraging uptake of telehealth among general practices in the district.


“Southern DHB delivers healthcare services across the largest geographical area in New Zealand, so it’s no surprise that we are leaders in using telehealth technologies,” Sandra says. “We’ve had a good deal of success implementing telehealth solutions in recent years and we believe there are many more areas of healthcare that can benefit from making telehealth a part their service.”


Telehealth involves using information and communication technologies to deliver health and medical care from a distance. Clinicians can connect via video link from any location to interact with patients whether at another hospital, a GP’s office or health clinic, or even, in some cases, a patient’s home.  


In the Southern district, telehealth clinics are already used in obstetrics, paediatric diabetes, neonatal intensive care, wound care, neurology, mental health and more. The Lakes District Hospital, Oamaru Hospital, Dunstan Hospital, as well as GP practices in Dunedin and Wanaka, participate in telehealth clinics, linking with secondary care clinicians in Dunedin and Invercargill and sometimes outside the DHB with Canterbury and elsewhere.   


“A number of additional clinical areas have expressed interest in using telehealth to further enhance patient care and we’re looking forward to enabling these new trials,” Ms Brough said, adding that the DHB has recently adopted the industry standard Vidyo platform, a high-definition videoconferencing solution that is easier to use, more reliable and provides higher quality resolution. 


“In addition to clinical care, telehealth can also be used for education and training,” she said.


Southern DHB Chief Executive Chris Fleming said: “Telehealth provides equity and continuity of care while helping to improve patient outcomes, lowering hospital admissions and reducing travel costs. This is another step forward in creating a more connected healthcare system in the South that better meets the healthcare needs of the people and communities we serve.”


In addition to the telehealth coordinator position and investment in Vidyo platform, Southern DHB is also investing in additional IT technical support and training to ensure the effective implementation of telehealth solutions across the DHB.

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