9 Aug 2013

Rural GPs enthused by spread of tele-healthcare

3:13 pm on 9 August 2013

The Rural General Practice Network says so-called tele-healthcare is spreading in New Zealand, allowing rural doctors to get expert help from specialists hundreds of kilometres away.

The Health Ministry and Queensland's Health Department last week signed an agreement to exchange knowledge and foster closer working relationships. Queensland is interested in New Zealand's e-medication and pharmaceutical purchasing arrangements, and New Zealand will learn about how Queensland runs its rural tele-health service.

The chairperson of the Rural GP network, Jo Scott-Jones, says Queensland has longer experience with tele-health, so New Zealanders will be able to learn about the administration behind such a service.

Hee says the technology will help patients defeat the "tyranny of distance". In his own town of Opotiki, for example, there's now a high-definition camera link between local surgeries and the accident and emergency department at Whakatane Hospital 50 kilometres away.

"Should we be engaged in a difficult resuscitation," he says, "then we can link in to the accident and emergency department and have the ED specialist looking over our shoulder and giving us advice."