EAST Grampians Health Service will roll out a 12 month telehealth trial on Sunday which could improve patient care and ease the burden on local doctors.
The program is part of a pilot rolled out in partnership with Western Victoria Primary Health Network and My Emergency Dr.
The program will provide doctors, nurses and patients with additional support via My Emergency Dr, which enables doctors and nurses to connect remotely via video call to medical specialists on a mobile device.
The program is already operating at Stawell Regional Health and Rural Northwest Health, and East Grampians Health Service director clinical services Peter Armstrong said it could cut down on patient transfers and doctor workloads.
"One (reason for the roll out) is to take some pressure off our local doctors who might not necessarily need to be called out to all these events, and there will be certain categories for which we'll do that and we'll have processes in place," he said.
"The other reason is to support our staff - they've got access to a specialist emergency physician at the end of the phone and it's the telehealth video conference. So you call up and talk to the doctor.
"They could be anywhere in Australia but they are all specialist accredited emergency doctors, and they will provide feedback and advice about treatment processes.
"We'll discuss it with the patients when they come in. So instead of ringing the on-call doctor we'll ask 'are you happy if we call My Emergency Doctor."
The program is fully funded for the 12 month period in Ararat.
"This isn't replacing our doctors - this is about trying to support them so we don't have to call them out of bed," chief executive Andrew Freeman said.
"We will always have a doctor on-call still and then if there's a need to escalate, the nurse can call the (the on-call doctor) up and they'll still come in.
"It's about complementing (local doctors)."
Mr Armstrong said it was hoped the program would help attract doctors to the area "because you're not on-call every day of the week, every night of the week."
It could also avoid unnecessary patient transfers as specialist advice will be accessible to doctors and nurses in Ararat. The program will operate overnight, likely between10pm and 6am.
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