Health staff priorities for the future development of telehealth in Western Australia
Citation: Bahaadini K, Yogesan K, Wootton R. Health staff priorities for the future development of telehealth in Western Australia. Rural and Remote Health 9: 1164. (Online) 2009. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au
Introduction: The views of health managers and physicians working in non-metropolitan areas of Western Australia (WA) were sought about which telehealth services are most needed.
Method: Chief executives and nurse managers of rural hospitals were sent a simple, open-ended questionnaire and asked to consider the current health situation and problems in their area, and to list the four most-needed telehealth services. In addition, they were asked to hand the questionnaire to one of the GPs or medical officers working with them. A total of 78 questionnaires were sent.
Results: The response rate for managers and doctors was 51% and 43%, respectively. The first priority of the managers was wound care (28%). The first priority of the doctors was psychiatry (35%). The collective priorities of the two groups were similar, with managers listing wound care, emergency, psychiatry and ophthalmology; and doctors listing psychiatry, wound care, emergency and ophthalmology.
Conclusion: Prioritizing potential telemedicine applications is a subject largely absent from the literature. When planning future telehealth applications, the opinion of local health staff who understand the requirements of patients in their region will assist in identifying real needs and lead to the provision of better health services for rural patients.
Key words: health staff priorities, remote telehealth service, remote telemedicine service, telehealth, telemedicine.
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