A new telehealth service is making life easier for Wheatbelt and Great Southern residents with respiratory health problems.
The Asthma and COPD Telehealth Service uses phone and video conference to support rural people who have problems with breathing or are feeling breathless. COPD is another name for chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The service means people living in the Great Southern and Wheatbelt can now speak to respiratory educators about their asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema without leaving town.
It's the result of a partnership between the WA Country Health Service (WACHS), WA Primary Health Alliance, Country WA Primary Health Network and Asthma Foundation WA (AFWA).
The education and support is being delivered across the region by experienced Clinical Respiratory and Asthma Educators from AFWA.
“People who live in rural areas sometimes have no access to education and clinical support, and we can link them to respiratory educators using videoconferencing,” said WACHS Senior Project Officer, Kate Hawkings.
“People can either visit their local GP, health centre or hospital to be connected to the educators, or they can use their home computer.”
Country WA Primary Health Network general manager Linda Richardson said the new service would improve access to support and education for people in rural and remote areas.
“We are committed to ensuring people in regional areas receive the care they need in the right place and at the right time,” Ms Richardson said.
“While Asthma & COPD Telehealth is not designed to replace or substitute existing services in the regions, it aims to increase and improve much needed community access to asthma and COPD education and support closer to people’s homes.”
Respiratory Physician, Associate Professor Peter Kendall said the service was designed to work in collaboration with local doctors to help people better manage their condition.
“When people know how they can help themselves, they can dramatically improve their quality of life,” he said.
“The benefit of this service is that people don’t have to travel to the city or a major centre to do it – they can receive specialist advice from the comfort of their own town or home.”
To access this service, people with asthma or COPD can refer themselves or be referred by their General Practitioner or other health professional.
Referrals can be made by telephone on 1800 ASTHMA (278 462), fax 08 9289 3601 or via secure email at email@example.com