ACT-based Goodwin Aged Care Services and medical clinic Next Practice Deakin have partnered to jointly try out a technology allowing general practitioners to conduct physical examinations on Australian seniors virtually.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Their three-month pilot programme will use a tele-examination solution by New York-based Tyto Care, provider of home examination and diagnosis solutions. The smartphone or tablet-based system features a suite of tools for aged care staff to use for the examination of ears, nose, lungs, heart, throat, skin, abdomen and temperature. Physical examinations are controlled and reviewed remotely by a physician in real-time.
The programme will engage around a hundred residents of Goodwin and other clients across the ACT. One device will be operated on-site in the David Harper House residential care facility by Goodwin and another device will be used by a home care team.
WHY IT MATTERS
The partners aim to make medical and GP examinations “more accessible” for senior citizens who have difficulty going out of their homes, especially during lockdowns. According to Dr Paresh Dawda of Next Practice Deakin, doctor visits to homes or residential care facilities are “sometimes limited, partly due to travel time”.
The tele-examination solution by Tyto Care, he said, is “an excellent step forward in increasing accessibility and responsiveness of health services for Australian seniors.” It can also provide a “more positive experience” for patients who have difficulty in hearing by letting them read auto-captions on screen, he added.
THE LARGER TREND
It came as a surprise for The Careside, a home care service provider in Western Australia, when it found in a survey conducted early in the year that most senior Australians were comfortable using telemedicine, despite physical challenges and lack of familiarity with the latest technologies. Still, across age brackets, in-person visits are preferred to teleconsultations, the survey showed.
In other news, South Australia-based home care provider Enabling Confidence at Home has recently opened its care hotel equipped with a platform for aged care communication and delivery by Rauland Australia. The 16 suites of the hotel are installed with discrete 4D radar safety monitoring and fall detection devices, a voice-activation technology and a Siemens HiMed Cockpit multimedia bedside terminal.
ON THE RECORD
“Tele-examinations would greatly improve the residents’ safety. It means that people can get the medical advice they need in the safety of their home[s] without having to be exposed to clinics. It also means our residents and clients can get consultations sooner without having to wait until a doctor comes to visit the home as it allows our carers to do the check-up themselves,” said Tamra MacLeod, executive manager of Clinical and Health Services at Goodwin.
Goodwin’s Dr Dawda said that while their programme allows consultations to be conducted remotely, it will not replace on-site consultations for their clients and residents. “[I]t’s not about either face-to-face or virtual care; It’s about [building] on a responsive service delivering comprehensive and continuity of care,” he stressed.