A transplant recipient is one of hundreds of Mackay HHS residents benefitting from an innovation in telehealth.
During the COVID-19 pandemic Mackay HHS launched the Telehealth Patient on Own Device (TelePOD) service reducing the number of patients leaving their home unnecessarily.
On 27 February, Airlie Beach dad Darren Attwood had a kidney transplant in Brisbane, arriving back home on 3 April.
To ensure the transplant had been accepted, Darren required weekly follow up appointments with his Mackay-based doctor – a four-hour round trip.
TelePOD allows patients to participate in consultations with their healthcare provider on their own device, from the comfort of their home or location of their choice.
Darren said being able to do the review appointments virtually had been hugely convenient.
“It is a four-hour round trip to Mackay for a five-minute appointment, so it has been hugely convenient to be able to do these appointments this way,” he said.
“I’m probably up to about 10 appointments via telehealth so if I would have had to have travelled that would have been about 40 hours on the road.”
Mackay Hospital and Health Service Manager Virtual Health Cathie La Riviere said she was excited to support patients with a new, innovative service.
“The launch of TelePOD during the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the health service’s ability to adjust quickly to the needs of our community and keep people treated by their clinicians, without coming into hospital,” she said.
“Our COVID-19 response, including the implementation of TelePOD, has seen telehealth outpatient appointments increase by 50 per cent, which is approximately an additional 400 a month.”
Patients can now request to use the TelePOD service for consultations with their healthcare provider if it is deemed clinically appropriate. To access the service, patients simply need to have an internet connection and smart device or computer with web camera and microphone.
“TelePOD has been set up to be as simple as possible and patients are fully supported by telehealth staff throughout the process,” she said.
“Patients are already comfortable with their laptops, smartphones and tablets, and can easily use the same devices to engage with their healthcare provider.
“Prior to the consultation, they are walked through the set-up and a test run making sure they are comfortable with the service. Telehealth staff are also on standby for help.”
As for Darren, he is loving having his life back after the transplant.
“It’ been great having my life back it has given me the opportunity to be normal and spend time with my three girls,” he said.
“It is so nice not having to be have to hooked up to a (dialysis) machine to live.”