Allied health assistant led post-acute telehealth clinics for remote communities

Mrs Clare Herring1, Mrs Amanda O’Keefe1

1Allied Health Department, Royal Darwin Hospital, Tiwi,, Australia

Abstract:

A number of post-acute allied health outpatient services are available to support the specialist outpatient clinics in the acute hospital setting.  Currently, allied health outpatients are only accessible to patients who can attend the acute facility.  Thus minimal specialist allied health support is available for remote based patients.  Evidence suggests telehealth is a suitable model to provide post-acute allied health services to patients living in remote communities.

Objectives:

  1. Establish post-acute allied health telehealth clinics with remote community health centres.
  1. Develop relationships between the acute allied health team and relevant key stakeholders.
  1. Provide education to remote health staff on the role of allied health professionals in specialised areas of post-acute care.

Post-acute allied health telehealth services are provided by Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology, Dietetics, Prosthetics and Orthotics, Podiatry and Social Work.  The clinics are coordinated by an Allied Health Assistant.  Each discipline has a defined scope of practice for telehealth in addition to existing services and identified gaps.

Since May 2016, collected data indicates an increase in the use of telehealth by acute allied health staff.  Results outline benefits of the clinic, patient attitudes and opinions of acute and remote staff.  The specific skill set and advantages of using an Allied Health Assistant are explored also.

The clinic plans to further promote its benefits, increase appointment numbers and contribute to the improvement of patient health outcomes through deliverance of high quality specialist allied health care closer to home.


Biography:
Clare Herring is an Allied Health Assistant and has worked at Royal Darwin Hospital in the Northern Territory for over 2 years. She holds Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance and is Speech Pathology Assistant and Telehealth Coordinator to Allied Health. Clare is passionate about Speech Pathology with special interests in paediatric feeding difficulties and speech and language therapy.

Amanda O’Keefe is the Manager of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Royal Darwin Hospital. She developed the Allied Health Telehealth Program for Royal Darwin Hospital and is interested in utilising a variety of service models to obtain optimal patient outcome.