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High praise for help during Telehealth Awareness Week

Vivien Kerr can’t sing highly enough the praises of the telehealth support service for people with asthma and COPD.

TelehealthLeft to right: WACHS South West Senior Physiotherapist Jodi Larke, Asthma WA Coordinator Education/Aged Care Services Eleissa Fuller (on screen) and ACTHS client, Vivien Kerr.

The 70-year-old Bunbury resident spent a week in hospital after having a respiratory attack associated with her chronic lung condition.

When she left hospital Vivien, a widow, felt very frightened. “I kept thinking it might happen again,” she said. “My physiotherapist referred me to the Asthma and COPD Telehealth Service and I had my first appointment by videoconference from Bunbury Hospital. “I was really, really impressed by the picture and sound quality and the information from Eleissa. I can’t rate the service highly enough.”

Vivien’s is one of many similar stories coming to light during the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week June 12–16.

The statewide campaign was initiated by the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) to raise the profile of telehealth and ensure more people benefit from it.

Telehealth works by allowing people who are isolated from their specialist or health care worker to carry out their appointment by high-quality videoconference or telephone. “Videoconferences are just like meeting your specialist in person except you don’t have to leave town – and in some cases you don’t even have to leave your home,” WACHS Chief Operating Officer Strategy and Reform Melissa Vernon said. “Feedback from people who use telehealth tells us that most found it as effective as an in-person consultation and they said it saved them time and money.”

Appointments by telehealth are now available for a wide range of outpatient services and at many country locations, including hospitals, health centres, Community Resource Centres and telehealth-enabled GP surgeries.

Vivien, who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, now speaks regularly on the telephone to an ACTHS educator from Asthma WA. “I don’t feel as frightened now,” she said. “I know that Eleissa or one of the other ladies is at the end of the phone if I need help.”

The Asthma and COPD Telehealth Service is a partnership between WACHS, the WA Primary Health Alliance, the Country WA Primary Health Network and Asthma WA, with support from Royalties for Regions and the Better Health Improvement Program.

To find out more about telehealth, ask your specialist, GP or health professional or visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/telehealth

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