Assistive Technology @ Home: using telehealth to support collaborative service delivery

Chris Sweeney1,

1 LifeTec, Level 1 Reading Newmarket Centre, Cnr Newmarket & Enoggera Rds, Newmarket, 4051, chrissweeney@lifetec.org.au

 

People living outside a metropolitan area often find it difficult to access a wide range of services or health professionals with specific experience and expertise. This is especially true for people with complex health conditions who require sophisticated assistive technologies. Telehealth provides a useful platform for supporting clients and their health care team in selecting, using and reviewing assistive technology. It also affords opportunities for a team of professionals to work collaboratively across services to achieve good outcomes for clients and their families.

This presentation will describe how telehealth has been integrated into one community organisation, enabling services to be provided equitably across the state. LifeTec has a skype service that people can call into for information and advice on assistive technology (AT).  People can also arrange a telehealth appointment to discuss their needs and review potential AT solutions.  Telehealth appointments prior to an outreach trip have also proved valuable in making the most of the face-to-face time, allowing needs to be clearly identified and suitable trial devices to be selected prior to the visit.

With the use of video-call software, staff are able to deliver services to people in their own homes and communities, eliminating the need for difficult and costly travel. Mobile technologies also allow staff in the field access to other team members with dedicated expertise who may be located back at base.  This has allowed the service to maximise the use of staff and quality of service delivery. Case examples will be used to discuss the benefits and challenges in providing telehealth services. Strategies to optimise the effectiveness of telehealth events will also be described.

Telehealth has become a routine mode of service delivery for staff within the service improving the coverage and effectiveness of services offered in rural and remote areas.