L-R Administration Assistant Michelle Ryan, Program Manager Yvonne Zardins, Nurse Coordinator Maria Nardone and Clinical Nurse Manager Dennyel Smith at Salvado Road
The Emergency Telehealth Service’s success at bridging the divide for critically ill country patients has been acknowledged in the WA Health Excellence Awards.
ETS is a finalist in the Overcoming Inequities category.
The service, in operation since August 2012, supports local clinicians by delivering a dedicated and specialist emergency telehealth service to 76 district hospitals and nursing posts in country WA.
Chief Operating Officer, Strategy and Reform, Melissa Vernon, said the lack of access for country people living outside of regional centres to emergency care at a standard delivered in the metropolitan area had significantly impacted on health outcomes for those requiring specialised emergency care.
ETS worked closely with local clinicians to deliver greater equity in service access for country people while reducing professional isolation for clinicians and professional development.
“ETS, which pioneers a new service delivery model for rural emergency medicine, has raised the clinical standard of patient care in rural hospitals and played a significant part in workforce sustainability with rural clinicians,” Melissa said.
“A number of States, and most recently New Zealand, are investigating the ETS as a solution to their emergency service access and sustainability issues.”
ETS Program Manager Yvonne Zardins said the service had improved transfer co-ordination and shown that patients could benefit from access to specialist emergency care using videoconferencing technology. This had led to better outcomes for rural emergency patients.
“ETS helps clinicians better manage high acuity patients,” she said. “This in turn has improved community confidence, as illustrated by positive patient feedback about better service quality and reduced travel.”
Since 2012, the service has treated more than 37,000 country patients.
More than 75 per cent of those have been diagnosed, treated and discharged home, keeping them closer to their communities and avoiding the need to travel long distances to larger centres for emergency care.
Yvonne said making the awards finals was acknowledgement of feedback from rural nurses that they feel supported and empowered by ETS.
“Nurses have said ETS allows them to use their clinical skills in a supported environment, giving them the ability to provide timely, safer care,” she said.
“That’s some of the best feedback we can get.”