It’s Telehealth Awareness Week! 

Did you know that the number of people in country WA using telehealth for medical care has trebled in the past four years? Read on to find out how telehealth helps Kylie Beck manage her diabetes. 

Paraburdoo resident Kylie Beck says her life has changed “heaps” since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in February.

And it is good change.

Beck, 34, has been having diabetes education sessions with a Diabetes WA (DWA) educator using telehealth services at Paraburdoo Hospital, and says life has improved for her whole family. The most significant change is that she now knows what sugar and junk food does to her, and how diabetes affects so many parts of her body.

“I used to drink four bottles of Coke a day – but not now. Now I know that diabetes can affect my eyes, and give me gangrene – I did not know that,” she said. “Even my kids have changed because they know what sugar does now.”

Beck said if it wasn’t for her regular education sessions using telehealth, she would not have known how to access diabetes information.

“I’d be back to my old ways, but I’ve lost 15 kilos – I feel fantastic,” she said.

Beck said she was “freaked out” going into her first telehealth session at her local hospital. “I was that nervous at the start, but my diabetes educator, Amanda, made me feel so comfortable. By my second appointment I was looking forward to it so I could ask more questions.”

Beck’s story is one of many coming to light during the inaugural Telehealth Awareness Week June 12–16. The statewide campaign was initiated by the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) to raise the profile of telehealth and ensure more people benefit from it. Telehealth works by allowing people who are isolated from their specialist or health care worker to carry out their appointment by high-quality videoconference or telephone.

“Videoconferences are just like meeting your specialist in person except you don’t have to leave town – and in some cases you don’t even have to leave your home,” WACHS chief operating officer strategy and reform Melissa Vernon said.

“Feedback from people who use telehealth tells us that most found it as effective as an in-person consultation and they said it saved them time and money.”

Appointments by telehealth are now available for a wide range of outpatient services and at many country locations, including hospitals, health centres, Community Resource Centres and telehealth-enabled GP surgeries.

To find out more about telehealth, ask your specialist, GP or health professional or visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/telehealth.