Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital has been participating in US-based push to bring the experience of metropolitan health experts to rural and remote areas through cloud-based teleconferencing technologies.
Project ECHO has so far connected general practitioners in Dubbo, Wagga and Darwin to a team of specialists in Liverpool to discuss de-identified cases, saving patients an average of eight hours of travel to receive a specialist diagnosis.
The project has largely focused on diagnosing and treating Hepatitis C, which Liverpool Hospital says is often found in communities who don’t want to or cannot afford to travel long distances to receive specialist diagnosis in metropolitan areas.
So far, 350 cases have been discussed using Zoom’s commercial-off-the-shelf cloud video conferencing platform, saving a total of 2,600 hours of travel and facilitating quicker treatment in a more comfortable setting close to home.
The only requirement for hospitals to deploy the Zoom solution is a stable internet connection.
This also means that In rare instances, doctors were even able to connect while on the go using their wireless hotspots in airports or even their cars.
It’s also been a valuable training exercise for rural and remote doctors, not just in using increasingly popular telehealth tools but also in confidently diagnosing Hepatitis C without needing to refer patients to a specialist.
Liverpool Hospital said that it takes about five teleconferencing sessions of case-based learning for clinicians to be able to apply that knowledge to future patients, which has the knock-on effect of freeing up Project ECHO resources and the rural GPs’ time for other cases.
The hospital also sees this as a chance to further develop its strategies for future training and health outreach.
Early success with Project ECHO and Zoom’s platform will inform Liverpool’s telementoring models to support more people living in rural and remote areas accessing specialist expertise by 2021.