Videoconferencing used for real time consultation is a form of telemedicine. Usually there is direct patient involvement, but episodes where the patient is not directly involved but remains the focus of the consultation exist, for example multi disciplinary meetings and case conferences.
Although it may seem redundant to say so, the limiting feature of videoconferencing is that the distant clinician is not able to directly examine the patient. They do however receive a great deal of visual information about the patient and their surroundings which, when compared to the telephone, significantly enhances their ability to interpret the patients situation. Another advantage over the telephone is that the consultation does not only have to occur on a one to one basis, but if required can be many to many.
Consultations with direct patient involvement occur as scheduled or unscheduled events, across the spectrum from routine follow up outpatient appointments to acute assessments during stabilization for aeromedical retrieval. Many examples exist in New Zealand, across a broad range of disciplines and involving a variety of clinicians.
VIDEO CONFERENCING TELEMEDICINE ACTIVITIES IN NEW ZEALAND INCLUDE:
- Remote consultations – between a rural patient or a patient in a rest home and a specialist in an urban hospital
- Triage – A GP consulting with a hospital on whether a patient should be admitted
- Multidisciplinary meetings – a number of health professionals situated in different locations using video conferencing to discuss a treatment plan for a shared patient
- Remote expert peer support – a doctor in a rural hospital being supervised by a doctor in a larger regional hospital or an Emergency Department in a remote hospital connecting in with the Emergency Department of a larger hospital regarding care for a patient
- Education – online training workshops delivered between sites using video conferencing