Ms Angela Firth1
1Western Nsw Local Health District, Kelso, Australia
Background: A review of the distribution of Allied Health resources in western NSW commenced in 2014 incorporating the development and application of an algorithm quantifying the relative health needs of communities, to inform equitable distribution and service provision. Implementation planning identified service delivery incorporating telehealth modalities as crucial to maximising use of the available workforce hours, and an important step towards strengthening equity of access to Allied Health services. This presentation explores the development of a virtual allied health service in a rural and remote District of NSW.
Aim:The Virtual Allied Health Service – incorporating Dietetics, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology aims to:
• enhance access
• improve quality and safety
• enrich patient experience, and
• strengthen efficiency and effectiveness of allied health services.
Methodology:Project development applied Appreciative Inquiry principles to Discover current practice in telehealth service provision, Dream of the future, and Design and Deliver virtual allied health services. Concurrently, program logic methodology was utilised to formulate a rigorous evaluation strategy. Measures were framed in the domains of:
• quality and safety
• patient experience, and
Results:Clinical pilot results indicate increased efficiency via reduced inter-facility transfers, and improved safety through interventions that prevent and ameliorate hospital acquired complications, for example, interventions for patients identified as at risk of malnutrition and pressure injuries.
Conclusion:Providing services via telehealth is central to the delivery of safe, effective and efficient and equitable allied health services.
Angela commenced her career as a Speech Pathologist in 1998, and has worked in clinical roles in community, acute, rehabilitation and education settings in NSW and the ACT. She has also worked in a range of areas including education, workforce planning, management and more recently taking a lead role in clinical governance and strategic planning initiatives.
Angela works as associate to the Executive Director Allied Health in Western NSW Local Health District, with a portfolio of responsibilities leading clinical and workforce governance initiatives, including achieving innovative and sustainable workforce models to promote equitable access to services. Angela is committed to realizing equity of access to safe high quality allied health services across a sparsely populated regional and rural Local Health District.
Angela holds a Bachelor of Applied Science – Speech Pathology, a Master of Public Health and a Graduate Certificate in Business.