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The Orthopaedic Telehealth Clinic connects patients and physiotherapists with orthopaedic specialists via video-conferencing technology. 

Telehealth clinic improves access to specialist care

02 May 2018


Telehealth technology has brought specialised orthopaedic care from Nepean Hospital to the bedsides of patients at Blue Mountains and Springwood hospitals and to post-surgery patients in Lithgow.

Blue Mountains and Lithgow residents recovering in hospital, and some Lithgow residents recovering at home, following orthopaedic surgery at Nepean Hospital can avoid a return trip to Penrith by accessing the Orthopaedic Telehealth Clinic for their follow up orthopaedic consultation.

A project from Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Telehealth Program, the Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Clinic offers patients a video-conferenced follow up consult at their local hospital that connects them with their specialist team at Nepean Hospital.

NBMLHD Telehealth Program Manager, Tanya Baldacchino says over one hundred patients have benefited from the Orthopaedic Telehealth Clinic so far.

“The Telehealth Clinic removes the need for patients to travel to see their specialist team and instead, brings the doctor to them,” says Ms Baldacchino.

“Previously, orthopaedic patients would have to return to Nepean Hospital for a brief follow up consult. Typically, this is a quick appointment that would be less than ten minutes long.”

“Having to leave their own community for a follow up check was inconvenient for the patient as well as their family,” says Ms Baldacchino.

For bedbound patients post-surgery, a return trip to Nepean Hospital required a nurse escort, hospital transportation and planning to ensure the patient received their medication and meals while away from their local hospital.

“The telehealth consult is treated very much like a regular face-to-face consult and along with avoiding a trip to Penrith, we’ve found that using telehealth technology in the clinic offers many benefits,” Ms Baldacchino says.

“Because the consultation takes place at the local hospital, it’s much easier for families to attend the consult and join the discussion with the specialist team. The telehealth consult is also very collaborative because the physiotherapist caring for the patient post-surgery can also join the video-conference with the patient to provide in depth information about the patient’s current post-surgery management.”

The Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Clinic has also strengthened Blue Mountains, Springwood and Lithgow hospitals’ connections with Nepean Hospital, one of Sydney’s largest teaching hospitals.

“Establishing the Orthopaedic Telehealth Clinic required coordination between all our hospitals. This was championed by Dr Rami Sorial, Head of Orthopaedics at Nepean Hospital and was a collaboration between surgical outpatients staff, physiotherapists, administration and Telehealth staff who all worked to deliver this project to improve the hospital experience for patients,” says Ms Baldacchino.

“This telehealth project has delivered some great benefits for orthopaedic patients. The opportunities for this to be applied in other services are very vast,” Ms Baldacchino says.