Telehealth diabetes clinic bridges healthcare gap
A nurse-led telehealth diabetes clinic, between an Opotiki GP and Tauranga Hospital, enhances the specialist care offered to local patients.
Ellen Walker, an Opotiki practice nurse in Dr Jo Scott-Jones's Church Street Surgery team, helped setup the diabetics' telehealth clinic. Before she moved into rural primary healthcare in Opotiki, Ellen came from the Tauranga Hospital diabetes health team, 134 kilometres away.
In Opotiki, diabetes is a big health issue with approximately 470 people from a total population of 8,436 (2013 census) receiving regular treatment. 53.3 per cent of people in Opotiki District are Maori. Just under half of the resident population live in the Opotiki township and the rest with of the population live in smaller communities.
"Being able to link Opotiki patients to the experts in Tauranga seemed the natural step. Having the technology and broadband available meant that it could happen", says Ellen.
Ernie Newman, from the Telehealth Demonstration Project, helped set up the video conferencing equipment at either end. Both Ellen and Isabel Raiman, the Diabetes Nurse Practitioner, based in Tauranga, were trained to get the best out of the equipment.
Ellen says, "We run telehealth diabetes consultations with Isabel in Tauranga while the patient and I are together in Opotiki. The shared software and camera means she can see my screens and also see the patient so she can see what I see.