Quality of care report 2012/13

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Mental Health Video Conferencing / Rural Consumers Travelling For Care

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Mental health staff, Dr Tejraj Tawde, Ravi Bhat and 
Tanya Sutton

Sitting in a room with a computer screen, talking to your treating psychiatrist who is located elsewhere in the country, may seem like a most unusual method of receiving the treatment and care you require for your mental illness; but for some people living in Seymour who are experiencing a mental illness, this is what is happening.

Videoconferencing has been used by the Goulburn Valley Area Mental Health Service over the last 12 months to enable people experiencing a mental illness to be seen in private and familiar surroundings, such as their local doctor’s clinic, with a person that they know and trust. This model also means that the person does not have to travel long distances to see a health specialist.

The videoconferencing model uses small, portable computer-based technology with a high definition camera, in partnership with a local General Practice or Primary Mental Health clinician and a centre-based Psychiatrist.

Verbal feedback from some consumers suggests that while there was some apprehension initially, this soon disappeared when the consumer and Psychiatrist discussed the issues or symptoms, talked about treatment options and came to an agreement on what action needed to be taken.

Interviews are promptly followed up either with a letter to the consumer’s local doctor or a further discussion with the clinician and /or carer involved with the treatment and care of the consumer.

A Patient Feedback Survey Postcard was developed, in consultation with consumers and the treatment team. These are given to the consumer to complete and mail back to the service; the information is then used to further drive this model of practice.

Feedback from local doctors in Seymour has been very positive due to the quick turnaround time from appointment to having the person seen and a letter providing an assessment report and plans for ongoing treatment being received.

Due to the success of this project and the positive feedback from consumers, their families and local doctors, plans are underway to establish five new videoconferencing clinics over the next 12 months. These new clinics will also be evaluated to monitor consumer and family satisfaction, the satisfaction of local doctors and the financial viability of this model of rural service delivery across the Goulburn Valley region.