Imagine an almost packed Optus Stadium is filled to capacity and then double it – that is the number of people who have received treatment from regional clinicians using the Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS), which has been transforming emergency care in country Western Australia since 2012.
Developed by the WA Country Health Service, this award-winning initiative has supported frontline country clinicians to treat more than 100,000 patients; saving lives and significantly improving outcomes for patients being treated in regional hospitals.
Described as the ‘doctor on the telly’, the ETS is hailed as a trailblazer in the delivery of emergency medicine. Using high definition videoconferencing equipment, it connects country clinicians with emergency specialists who can be based thousands of kilometres away.
Averaging almost 400 consultations a week in 2019, the WA Country Health Service ETS provides care close to home for those that need it most, delivered by local nurses and doctors with clinical back-up provided by highly trained clinicians literally at the touch of a button.
Assisting more than 20,000 patients in 2019 – a 20 per cent increase from 2017 – the McGowan Government has invested $19.2 million to provide telehealth services across Western Australia in the 2018-19 financial year in line with its commitment to putting patients first.
Recently the ETS supported the staff in Dongara treating a patient having an asthma attack and staff in Donnybrook treating a patient following a quad bike accident. More than 20 per cent of ETS consultations in 2019 involved children and 22 per cent of presentations were as a result of injury.
The record for the most consultations in a single day is 108, with weekends and the festive season being the busiest periods as holiday-makers travel throughout regional WA.
The ETS has also enabled more than 70 per cent of country patients to be treated and discharged from their local hospital, reducing the burden of travel for patients and their families.
The ETS has contributed to improved patient outcomes, improved consistency of service and standards, and increased reassurance and support for a busy and often remote regional clinical workforce. It is one of a number of services available to frontline country clinicians treating emergency patients via the WA Country Health Service Command Centre.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“The McGowan Government is putting patients first in country communities and providing specialist emergency care closer to home via telehealth meets this aim.
“Innovation is changing the way healthcare is delivered.
“With over 100,000 patients now having accessed the ETS, it’s clear that this service is not only helping to save lives but also significantly improving outcomes for patients being treated in regional hospitals.
“We now have 82 Emergency Telehealth Service sites across country WA, keeping patients within their communities and closer to the support and care of their loved ones.
“Since its humble beginnings in 2012, the WA Country Health Service ETS has grown to see as many patients each week as it once did annually – enough to fill 200 Qantas Airbus A380 aeroplanes.
“Almost 100 WA Country Health Service emergency doctors deliver expert medical assistance providing immediate access to specialist care, when and where it is needed.”
Minister’s office – 6552 6500