Virtual consultations with specialists from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) will be possible for clinicians in the Broken Hill Intensive Care Unit (ICU) soon through the virtual reality connection between the Broken Hill Health Service (BHHS) and the Sydney Health Service.
A BHHS presentation showed how doctors from Sydney will be present through the internet at the bedside of Broken Hill patients, helping clinicians when needed, reviewing treatment plans and being able to give highly specialised advice from 1,000 kilometres away in real time.
NSW Minister for Regional Health and Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, was at the launch on Wednesday.
“Intensive care specialists, virtually available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from Sydney in the Broken Hill Intensive Care Department is absolutely groundbreaking,” she said.
The video presentation showed the local doctor, nurse and a monitor with the RPA doctor attending the bedside of a patient.
The real time connection and attendance of Broken Hill Hospital staff maintains the personal contact and the RPA specialist can give immediate advice helping locals stay in Broken Hill for best practice treatment at a higher level than attainable before.
“It is not going to replace face to face care but it’s an absolute adjunct to what we are doing in terms of delivering health care,” Ms Taylor added.
Susan Pearce, now Secretary of NSW Health, worked in the Intensive Care Unit in Broken Hill in the 1990s.
“I would have given anything in those days to have access to specialists the Royal Prince Alfred,” she said.
“Staff here do the most remarkable job, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, and it’s so pleasing to have this connection between the Sydney Local Health District and the Far West Local Health District,” she said.
Ms Taylor also explained that the support, advice and clinical virtual presence will help young clinicians feel more confident and help in bringing them to Broken Hill to work.
Both Ms Taylor and Ms Pearce worked in regional hospitals and pointed out that working in the rural and remote regions allowed a greater range of experience for clinicians and with this support they hope more health workers will come to the outback.