Staying Strong Telehealth Project: enhanced aged care for ATSI Australians
Not-for-profit aged care and disability organisation, integratedliving Australia, is breaking new ground with its Staying Strong telehealth project, an Australian Government pilot.
The $2.1 million project, funded under the NBN Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program,addresses chronic disease management in rural and remote communities and is helping to deliver a new model of care through telehealth monitoring of vital health signs for 120 older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders across New South Wales and Queensland.
Project participants must be 50 years or older and identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
The telehealth monitoring service is being provided to participants in Armidale, Coffs Harbour, Toowoomba and Goodna. The service is deliveredboth in-home and through telehealth hubs at local Aboriginal Medical Centres which provide a safe and welcome environment for older Indigenous community members to learn about and use the telehealth service.
integratedliving registered nurses work with participants and their GP to develop individual health and monitoring plans based on health needs. Using the Tunstall myclinic™ telehealth solution—including a touchscreen tablet, Integrated Care Platform (ICP)™ monitoring software, and vital sign peripherals—participants monitor their own vital health signs. Health data is then transmitted to the ICP triage manager database which prioritises readings for clinical triage. If a reading is outside of the monitoring plan range, ICP triage manager will raise an alert and the nurse will coordinate the appropriate response, in consultation with the participant and their GP or Health Service.
integratedliving Project Manager, Indra Arunachalam said the project has shown an increase in timely and accurate diagnosis, as well as a notable increase in patient awareness and self-management.
“The project also identified that older Indigenous Australians are quite confident using technology. With good internet connection, telehealth monitoring can deliver successful health outcomes for people living in rural and regional Australia,” said Ms Arunachalam.
“When I joined the Staying Strong Project my early telehealth readings identified I was experiencing weekly hypoglycaemic episodes,” said Participant C, living with Type 1 diabetes.
“I now take several readings a day and am able to self-identify potential hypoglycaemic attacks and take steps to prevent them.”
The success of the Staying Strong Project has led integratedliving to proceed with a mainstream program rollout of telehealth services to 13 regions across Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and Tasmania. Implementation of this new program has been made possible through funding provided by the Australian Government under the Commonwealth HACC Program.
The final evaluation report for the Staying Strong Telehealth Project is due for completion late-2014. The report will evaluate the enablers and barriers to using telehealth, as well patient health outcomes and improvement to quality of life.
For further information on Tunstall telehealth solutions, additional clinical research and trial projects visit www.tunstallhealthcare.com.au