Out of the 123,000 Western Australians currently living with diabetes, over 28 per cent reside outside major cities, and many report difficulty accessing crucial specialised diabetes information and support services close to home.
The Diabetes Telehealth Service for Country WA, which commenced in January 2015 and is delivered by Diabetes WA, was designed to fill the gap in regional and remote Western Australia where health services were limited or did not exist. Two years on, the valuable benefits of this service are immeasurable.
Funded by the Western Australian Country Health Service (WACHS) Southern Inland Health Initiative and subsidised by the state government’s Royalties for Regions program, the free service using video conferencing technology has now proven to be a great success.
Mrs Gill Denny, the Diabetes Telehealth Service for Country WA Coordinator, says that the service has held over 1000 telehealth education sessions since the program’s inception, assisting participants from the south-west coast, remote inland areas and all the way up to towns and communities in the north-west of the state.
“The service has been so successful because there is no need for a client to travel long distances to receive one-on-one, personalised care for their diabetes,” said Mrs Denny.
“Video conferencing is just like having a face-to-face appointment with a Diabetes WA diabetes educator; the only difference is that communication occurs through a computer and consultations take place at home, local health centres or doctors’ offices – an internet connection is all you need.
“A normal day for a Telehealth educator can involve virtually travelling to Mukinbudin in the Wheatbelt, Mount Barker in the Great Southern and Fitzroy Crossing in the North-West, as well as plenty of places in between, providing support for people managing diabetes no matter where they live and significantly reducing participant wait times for appointments or long hours travelling on the road to major centres.
“Participant results and feedback from the first two years has been outstanding; it is clear the service is making a huge difference in reducing the distance barrier and ensuring every person living with diabetes in WA has access to high-quality care and assistance to successfully manage their condition,” concludes Mrs Denny.
The Telehealth team also conducts regular information sessions for health professionals working in regional areas, and has provided upskilling and professional development to 750 attendees on topics such as diabetes medications, hypoglycaemia management and type 1 diabetes and mental health.
To find out more about the Diabetes Telehealth Service for Country WA or to book in a session, contact Diabetes WA on 1300 001 880.