"Disappointment about extended waiting time"

About: Box Hill Hospital

(as a relative),

Being from a regional area and having to support a family member (my parent) attend a Specialist Clinic Outpatient appointment at Box Hill Hospital / Eastern Health, I enquired about a Telehealth appointment. The health issue was from a fracture that happened some time ago and was very likely the final appointment as healing was complete.

I had to explain what a Telehealth appointment was, and was assured by the booking officer that the request would be followed up and confirmation (yes or no) would be forthcoming. It wasn't so and I had to follow up to be told by another (very pleasant and understanding) booking officer that it was not possible and we would have to attend in person. 

The appointment then involved a near 3-hour car trip, with my parent and I arriving 15 minutes prior to the nominated time. We then endured a 2.5-hour wait to be seen, a brief consultation, referral for imaging and an even briefer final consult that confirmed the fracture was healed and no further appointments were required. The return home took close to 4 hours due to peak hour and a freeway accident that delayed traffic. All up, 7.5 hours travel, over 3 hours at the hospital, for at most 10 minutes of consultation. 

I imagine that my parent is not the only person requiring to travel to metropolitan hospitals for specialist appointments, and would hope that in the 21st century, hospitals would have a clear procedure to allow remote access for distant, elderly or disabled patients where travel or extended waits present difficulty. Although I can understand why clinicians prefer face-to-face appointments, at the end of an episode of care where the need to physically interact with a patient is minimal, and an X-ray provides the required clinical information, the time and cost to the patient should be evaluated and Telehealth options should be a standard offering. Very disappointed that in this case, distant access was not an option and did not appear to be on the radar of Eastern Health. 

Responses

Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health We are preparing to make a change

picture of David Plunkett

Dear Weary Traveller

I would like to thank you for providing your feedback, Firstly let me apologize for the need for you to follow up as we hadn't answered your initial enquiry regarding the availability of Telehealth options.

Eastern Health has commenced the use of Telehealth and have had success with its use in one of our Emergency Departments and our Mental Health service. We are using the recently created statewide platform for Telehealth. To be honest, I would not expect the booking officers in outpatients/specialist clinics to be aware of this as we currently have very limited availability of this in this service. Extending the use of Telehealth in clinics is planned to be undertaken into 2018.

I would also like to acknowledge your considerable time commitment on the day of the visit and apologize we could not have offered a different method to reduce the burden for you and your family. We are implementing a number of improvements to our specialist clinic services and I will provide your feedback to the team so they can use your feedback in the work they are doing.

Thank you again for your feedback Weary Traveller and I wish you and your family the best of health along with a safe and healthy festive season.

Kind regards

David

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Response from David Plunkett, Chief Executive, Eastern Health We have made a change

picture of David Plunkett

Dear Weary Traveller

Please accept my apologies for the timeframe in providing a further update with what we are doing to reduce the burden of travel and use technologies to enhance patient experience and in some instances the quality of care provided.

Like all technologies, it continues to evolve and change as a better product becomes available. We have extended the use of these technologies to a number of services where this is able to be done through the use of a person's own devise.

We are continuing to increase the uptake of this type of technology, and as with all new things, there are staff within Eastern Health who are 'early adopters' and those who will never use it - but we will continue to further develop this as an option wherever possible.

Thank you again Weary Traveller and I wish you the very best of health.

Kind regards

David

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