Smooth start for cardiology tele clinics

Dunstan Hospital general manager Karyn Penno. Photo: ODT.
Dunstan Hospital general manager Karyn Penno. Photo: ODT.
The beginning of cardiology telemedicine clinics at Dunstan Hospital paves the way for even more opportunities in a "new era" of consultation and treatment, hospital general manager Karyn Penno says.

The first cardiology telemedicine clinic was held at the hospital last week and it had gone smoothly, following on from the success of paediatric diabetes telemedicine clinics, which began at Dunstan two years ago, Ms Penno said.

The clinics, funded by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB), would save patients time, money and travel and were "the way forward" for Dunstan. Dunstan was now "working hard" to identify other areas where services could be brought "closer to home", harnessing the benefits of the "new era" of telemedicine, she said.

Some medical specialties lent themselves more to telemedicine than others, and there were three more areas Dunstan was investigating at present, Ms Penno said.

She preferred not to say yet which specialties they were, but said it was hoped the next telemedicine clinic would  be  operating  at Dunstan within the next year.

Dr Darri Karlsson, a consultant cardiologist with the SDHB who helped to co-ordinate the creation of the Dunstan clinic, said the telemedicine initiative would improve health outcomes for patients in Central Otago. Monthly cardiology clinics were already held at Dunstan but the new service would provide greater support for patients.

During the "virtual" clinic, patients take part in a consultation with their cardiologist through a video link. A nurse or other health professional supports the patient at Dunstan during the consultation.

Ms Penno said the benefits of the paediatric diabetes telemedicine clinics had been significant, and families were grateful for the service, which reduced the number of times they had to travel to Dunedin for specialist appointments.

The SDHB also delivers obstetrics telemedicine clinics in Queenstown, at the Lakes District Hospital, in Frankton.

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