Telehealth saving lives in regional towns

Collie boy Riley Cooper’s parents know how to use his asthma medications in the most effective way after using telehealth to receive asthma education. Photo: supplied.

Collie boy Riley Cooper’s parents know how to use his asthma medications in the most effective way after using telehealth to receive asthma education. Photo: supplied.

Five-year-old Collie boy Riley Cooper hasn’t had a trip to the local emergency department for his asthma since last year.

That’s partly due to the fact his parents, Thias Cooper and Corinna Treasure, were able to access one-on-one education sessions about how to best treat his condition by videoconference from Collie Health Service.

The Asthma and COPD Telehealth Service (ACTHS) is run for the WA Country Health Service and WA Primary Health Alliance by Asthma WA so that people in the country with asthma can access education they might otherwise miss out on.

A paediatrician referred Riley’s parents to the ACTHS after Riley presented at Collie Health Service emergency department for the second time in three months with acute asthma and had to be rushed to Bunbury Health Campus.

The initial telehealth consultation took place within days following his referral, where Riley’s parents expressed great concern and worry over his respiratory health.

During each of the four sessions, a respiratory health educator was able to equip Riley’s parents with the knowledge and skills they needed to manage his asthma.

“Telehealth was great for us living in Collie – with three children, it saved us a lot of time and money on travel to get to an appointment in a bigger town,” Ms Treasure said.

“Telehealth helped us to learn how to administer Riley’s medicine correctly and more efficiently by providing visual instructions.

“Since learning the correct techniques Riley has not been admitted to the emergency department with asthma.”

Telehealth Awareness Week, which runs from June 25 until June 29, has been organised by the WA Country Health Service and its service partners to highlight that healthcare appointments delivered by telehealth are now widely available to country patients, without the stress and cost of travel.

People in most rural and remote towns across WA can access healthcare appointments using telehealth for more than 30 specialities including cancer services, surgical follow-up, respiratory medicine, blood-related disorders, orthopaedics as well as education for chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma.

People can enquire about having an ACTHS appointment by calling 1800 278 462 and any other appointment by telehealth by asking their health professional or calling 1300 367 166.

More information about telehealth is available at www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/telehealth