New Zealand continues to move ahead in the area of telemedicine, with a new trial in Opotiki – around Wellington – launched this week by Health Minister Tony Ryall.
Under the trial, video equipment and high-speed broadband have been installed in many general practices, rest homes and also in the homes of some GPs.
“In the past, if people needed to see a GP in Te Kaha they had to wait for an appointment or faced a long drive to Opotiki, as their GP is only onsite a few days a week,” said Ryall. “Thanks to telemedicine, they will soon be able to see a doctor in Opotiki via video connection from their local health centre on the days their own GP isn’t available.”
“People living in rest homes in Opotiki will soon be able to receive ‘new age’ house calls from their doctor, where instead of transporting an elderly person to the health centre, doctors will in some cases be able to speak to their patients via a video connection at the rest home.”
Ryall said that nurses at the Opotiki health centre would also be able to consult with doctors in their homes after hours, or with the emergency department at Whakatane Hospital, and follow up appointments would also be made through the video channels.
The Opotiki Telehealth Community project is a joint initiative between the National Health IT Board, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.