Supporting telehealth delivered allied health services

Melody Shepherd1, Peter Fuelling1, Jayne Kirkpatrick1, Ilsa Nielsen2

1 Cunningham Centre, Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, PO Box 405, Toowoomba, QLD AHET@health.qld.gov.au

2 Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland, Level 6, William McCormack Place (Stage 2), 5B Sheridan Street, Cairns QLD 4870, ilsa.nielsen@health.qld.gov.au

 

Background

Allied health professionals in Queensland health services have identified strong interest in implementing telehealth to improve access for rural and remote consumers and support service efficiency. The Cunningham Centre in partnership with the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland completed an Allied Health Telehealth Capacity Building Scoping Project in 2015. Limited access to examples of telehealth-supported service models specific to the clinical practice of the profession was identified as a barrier to implementation.

Methods

Strategies commencing in 2015 to better meet the information and support needs of allied health professionals wanting to implement telehealth in their service have included:

  • development of training programs/products related to service and clinical redesign for telehealth,
  • initiation of an allied health telehealth collaborative network to support dissemination of information on successful service models, and
  • collation and distribution of resources that assist teams to evaluate telehealth services.

Results

Training products have been drafted that address service redesign and clinical adaptions required for telehealth.  Clinical focus areas of the training program include home assessment, mobility programs, diabetes management, paediatric therapy, hand therapy, burns management and compression garments.  Service redesign topics such as business modelling, scheduling and data collection processes, and host/recipient site collaborative service models have had strong engagement from allied health professionals through the network and the training program development stage.

Sample resources from the training products and their application to clinical practice will be highlighted during the presentation. These products are due for release by the Cunningham Centre in 2017.

Discussion

Allied health workforce telehealth capacity development needs to extend beyond skills training in the use of telehealth device.  Training, resources and collaboration are in demand by health professionals who need practical and clinically-relevant guidance to integrate new technologies into their practice.