Project Report

Development of an occupational-therapy-led paediatric burn telehealth review clinic


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Debra Phillips1
BOccThy (Hons), Grad Cert Health Management, Occupational Therapist

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Lauren Matheson2
BOccThy (Hons), Occupational Therapist

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Tilley Pain3
PhD, Principal Research Fellow

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Gail A Kingston4
PhD, Assistant Director Occupational Therapy *


1, 2, 4 Occupational Therapy Department, The Townsville Hospital and Health Service, PO Box 670, Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia

3 The Townsville Hospital and Health Service, PO Box 670, Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia; and College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville Qld 4811, Australia

ACCEPTED: 1 February 2021

early abstract:

Context: Burns are a common injury in children. Rural and remote children with burn injuries are disadvantaged if their burns require hospitalisation and specialist rehabilitation. Most specialist burn rehabilitation is provided in regional or metropolitan cities by a multidisciplinary team. Therefore, rural and remote burn patients are required to travel to access these services. This project aimed to develop an Occupational Therapy (OT)-Led Paediatric Burn Telehealth Review Clinic (OTPB Clinic) at Townsville University Hospital (TUH) to provide ongoing rehabilitation to rural and remote children post burn injury closer to home. 
Issues: Local audits identified inequitable service delivery to children from rural and remote areas post burn injury.  A project officer was appointed to develop the OTPB Clinic, including comprehensive guidelines to support sustainability.  An expanded scope role was undertaken by the treating OT and Allied Health Assistants were engaged to promote efficient service delivery. 
Lessons Learnt: The OTPB Clinic commenced in 2017 and was evaluated using patient satisfaction surveys and number of clinical encounters pre- and post-implementation. During the implementation period 28 rural or remote paediatric burn patients were reviewed. Review frequency increased from twenty to eight-week intervals.  Travel time was reduced by approximately twelve hours per appointment. Families identified numerous benefits of the clinic including continuity of care and reduced time away from work.   Less than 4% of patients required re-engagement with Paediatric Surgeons for surgical intervention. The model has the potential to be transferred to other tertiary referral burns services.