10 Jul 2008

Wesport patients to be diagnosed via video

2:07 pm on 10 July 2008

Diagnosing patients via video could be used throughout New Zealand if a pilot scheme is successful, the Ministry of Health says.

The West Coast District Health Board will trial a tele-medicine system in which patients in Westport are assessed by a doctor 100km away in Greymouth.

Patients will be assessed using a high-resolution video camera connected to diagnostic instruments, operated by a nurse.

The doctor and patient will be able to see and talk with one another.

West Coast DHB chief executive Kevin Hague says the service will be a boon for remote areas of the region without a doctor.

The Ministry of Health is monitoring the trial. Principal medical adviser David Galler says, if successful, the system could be adopted in other rural areas.

Buller mayor Pat McManus says the tele-medicine method can help overcome the shortage of medical specialists. However, it will not replace face-to-face GP consultations.