A stand-out speaker at the Austalasian Telehealth Confeence this week, for me, was Andrew Bryett from the Queensland Department of Health. His topic was “Embedding Telehealth in Mainstream Service Delivery.”
He acknowledged that the Department’s work in Telehealth is still an experiment - there is not a lot of academic evidence but “it feels right so we are encouraged.” The Queensland government spends $75 million annually subsidising patients’ travel to doctors, some of which could be avoided. “We used to play around with pilot (telehealth) projects that led nowhere,” he acknowledged, “but now we are into embedding things.” The vision is “to embed Telehealth into everyday services as an accepted and supported enabler of healthcare for all of Queensland.” They try to do this by avoiding Telehealth-specific policies and processes, instead writing the technology into existing standard protocols as just another modality. “Embed what works and keep looking for the next opportunity,” he urged.
Queensland’s Telehealth Emergency Management Support Unit TEMSU has an interesting 4 minute video searchable on YouTube under TEMSU.
Andrew urged that Telehealth should be built around the needs of patients and their families. This is good advice given the propensity to focus almost exclusively on clinicians, with little thought given to the impact on patients who logically are the greatest beneficiaries of telehealth. My experience is that “customer pull” very often trumps “supplier push” as a driver of sweeping change.