August 14, 2015

The Answer To Doctor Shortage In Rural and Remote Australia


Overburdened regional doctors who work during the day in clinics and at night seeing patients in the home or at hospitals struggle to keep up. These are the facts.

It seems that many previously implemented government models have failed to scratch the surface with satisfactory health delivery. In theory it sounds great yet, often fails to deliver to the communities in need.

Telehealth model has been in operation across regional and remote communities for the last few years with millions dollars thrown at these same overburdened doctors in regional areas to help their patients. What is clearly evident is that throwing more money at these doctors is not going to change the fact that they have no more time.

In addition, this is a paid health model as it only becomes recognised as claimable under Medicare when a consult becomes a meeting with a GP, patient and specialist. What this means is that the relevance of a consult and the coordination become a nightmare for both the doctor, patient and specialist consultant. It was still just not worth the incentives that Medicare gave to the doctors to participate.

Patients in these areas in the most want to speak (face to face Telehealth consult) to a GP doctor to alleviate their anxiety at the time when unable to see their regular GP. This provides patients with an immediate response to their health concerns, and if required provides then with a referral to be seen by a specialist, again face to face.

This requirement by a patient seems reasonable. Whilst the patient may want and need to see a specialist in time the fact is that in the first instance it may or may not be necessary. A regular GP is the only health professional that can provide them with that initial diagnosis and only then would there be a need to refer onto the specialist.

Saving patients time and money is definitely an added advantage as seeing a specialist via Telehealth conferencing can provide the patient with easier access to specialist care; reduce the waiting time to see a specialist; and reduce the often huge costs of travel, accommodation, absence from work coast.

About seven million people or 32 per cent of the total Australian population live outside major cities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up a substantial proportion of the population in rural and especially remote areas. On average their health outcomes are substantially poorer than those of other Australians.

Harry Pitt from Torres Strait Islander Consultancy says:

 Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is important and so to is the importance of the health workers who identifies as. My family is continually seeing well intentioned government health providers venture into their communities but fail to appreciate that the delivery of a health service to these areas is better performed with the assistance of an ATSI care worker. I see Telehealth video conference as a good tool for aiding these care workers by working smarter to deliver positive health outcomes for our community and people.

August 14, 2015