This story is about a teleconference between Busselton Health Campus and Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) in Perth. I'm an elderly patient waiting for a laminectomy. At FSH I've managed to change another visit by agreeing to a teleconference between myself at Busselton and FSH. The appointment was for a conference with an anaesthetist for an early morning appointment with an initial check at Busselton Health Campus Nurse, to check pulse, ECG and other medical details. The local nurse was very nice and professional and emailed these results to Perth to save time.
I had previously been to neurosurgery departments in Perth three times starting early this year, plus I had an MRI for assessment.
I'm in a lot of pain caused by my back. Heavy medication only helps sometimes. The initial checkup took around 20 mins. My spouse accompanied me on this journey. Next we were shown to the conference room upstairs in the Busselton Hospital. The room was big enough, and had plenty of hard chairs and a video screen. The reason I mention the hard chairs will become more evident later.
We sat down and waited for the anaesthetist to appear. About an hour later a FSH nurse came to the screen to inform us it would not be long. Shortly after another nurse came on the screen, with another list of medical questions. A short while later, the anaesthetist appeared. Our conversation lasted 10 minutes and included more medical history and expressed their interest in my case.
The anaesthetist was a very professional and nice person. I was then informed by yet another nurse that the surgery team doctor needed to speak with me but was running late with ward rounds and I would have to wait.
The doctor eventually arrived onscreen an hour later and commenced asking more questions and passing on good hospital practice. This doctor was very nice, and the talk only lasted a few minutes. Total conference took up to two hours - most of it probably necessary but most of the questions seemed repetitive.
All the waiting times were annoying but I could've almost managed with a few more comforts.
To have to sit on an ergonomically unfit chair is very painful and I recommend more suitable chairs or even a bed be made available including a small writing desk for the patient to take notes.
Some cold water in a cup would be good, as well as more information regarding who the patient is to confer with. I thought I was just speaking to the anaesthetist, and not three more professionals. And perhaps the technician could check the sound on the video, not loud enough and not very clear. Trust all concerned will read this and maybe make some improvements.
Responses to this story
Response from Jan Cook, Operations Manager Coastal Hospital, WACHS South West last week We are preparing to make a change
I am sorry to hear that your experience in using Busselton Hospital telehealth facilities was not satisfactory. The room you were allocated to is not the normal room that outpatients use. When the other telehealh rooms are full we use this particular room as overflow.
You have raised some many good points to improve the room for the patients comfort and experience and I thank you for this.
I have been in contact with our Telehealth Coordinator to assist me with the issues that you have raised. We are putting in these changes starting with changing the chairs over, accessing a small table and having laminated instructions in the room to enable patients to contact the Telehelath coordinator when there are delays, such as you experienced.
The South West Telehealth Coordinator will also be in contact with FSH Telehealth Coordinators to improve the clinic process for communicating with patients.
I will let you know when Busselton has completed all the changes and I will attach a photo to show you this.
I do hope your next Telehealth experience is greatly improved.
Update posted by hydrusnf97 (the patient) last week
Thanks Jan for the prompt reply.
Look forward to seeing the improvements.
Response from Neil Doverty, Executive Director, Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group, South Metropolitan Health Service 6 days ago
Thank you for your comments about your experience using telehealth. There are certainly some lessons for us to learn from your feedback, which we have taken on board. Telehealth is a great tool to ensure people can receive care as close to home as possible, saving patients valuable time. It is a tool we are trying to use more often in more clinical situations. It is important that we get this right and feedback such as yours helps us to know where we need to improve.
I apologise you weren’t told that your telehealth appointment was for a preadmission clinic wherein multiple doctors and nurses from the relevant specialties see patients in a single appointment rather than in multiple separate appointments.
We are trying to streamline the process. Booking these consultations does present a lot of logistical and planning difficulties when relying on teams to leave clinical areas to review patients in the preadmission clinic. Our intention is to book all patients from a specialty on the same day wherever possible and by using patient health questionnaire we hope to reduce the duplicate questioning.
I apologise that your experience wasn’t streamlined, and I trust that we will be able to do better in the future.
Thank you again for your feedback.
Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group