News and Notices

How has telehealth changed healthcare?

It's Telehealth Week this week at Nelson Marlborough Health and today we're talking about how telehealth has changed healthcare.

Prior to COVID-19, we heard very little about telehealth unless you lived in a remote location and even then it tended to focus on bringing patients in to their local health centre where they could link in to their clinician at the hospital via phone or video. By and large both patients and health practitioners still opted for in person consults given the choice.

“People thought video consults would replace ‘in person’ meetings entirely, so they weren’t keen” explains Lisa Livingstone, Clinical Lead IT at NMH, “but physical consultations will always be needed and telehealth is complementary to this.”

Telehealth was put to the test during lockdown, “it was baptism by fire for many of our clinicians and their support staff,” says Natasha Soroka - Virtual Health Administrator at NMH, “we went from having 60 staff trained to do video appointments to 1200 in just 10 days.”

“Patients care needed to continue and telehealth was the answer and those who are using telehealth are continuing to reaping the benefits,” says Lisa.

What are some of those benefits?

Patients can choose the location

Telehealth can provide patients and their whānau with more control over their care. Patients can choose to have their appointment at home or in person, they can choose to have members of their whānau attend their appointments virtually. This gives a person peace of mind and advocacy when faced with decisions about complex health issues.

Multiple clinicians attending appointments

Video conferencing has enabled specialists to contribute, along with the patient’s regular clinician, into their appointments. The ability to dial in to a meeting without physically attending is time efficient for health professionals and means they can input into all or part of the patient’s appointment, which they could not otherwise do.

Reduced travel time and increased accessibility

Telehealth has not only reduced travel time and increases convenience for patients, it has also improved access to health services allowed greater input into patient’s care plans. All of which contributes to making a patient’s healthcare journey smoother and providing better access to care for everyone in our community.

Bill's story

During his cancer treatment at Nelson Hospital, the oncology team offered Bill the option of telehealth appointments. Not only was it convenient and comfortable for him, it also meant Bill’s son was able attend the appointments and be part of his father’s health planning.

Watch Bill's story below.

If you want to find out more about Telehealth at NMH visit our Telehealth page.