Demand for specialist care is growing, resulting in long public hospital waiting lists for specialist outpatient services.
Timely access to outpatient care is necessary to ensure Australia has a high quality health care system.
The evidence points towards the use of store-and-forward image based triage of referrals as a relatively simple solution that could contribute to improving the timeliness of care.
Store-and-forward telehealth usually involves a referring clinician sending images and relevant clinical details to a specialist based at a tertiary hospital.
This can facilitate more patients being appropriately managed in primary care. Specialists are also able to support referring clinicians by offering a definitive diagnosis and patient management plan, without the need for a face-to-face visit. Relevant diagnostic procedures can be discussed and booked ahead of time – another time saving measure.
The increasing use of electronic medical records (EMR) means the time is right to begin integrating store-and-forward telehealth and image based triage for appropriate disciplines e.g. dermatology, ophthalmology, wound care, and ENT.
More information about the successful teledermatology service, run in conjunction with Metro South Health and the Princess Alexandra Hospital, can be found here.
For the full abstract, click here.