Driving for change in rural telehealth

Remote telehealth GEIS general examination camera donation to Mudgee Hospital

With a big heart and an even bigger car – a shiny blue ’53 model FJ Holden to be precise – this month, members of the Mudgee NSW car club, Cudgegong Cruisers Inc, donated a Visionflex GEIS® General Examination Camera to staff at the new $70 million Mudgee Hospital. We talk about rural telehealth and get insights from Mudgee Hospital’s Health Service Manager.

Cudgegong Cruisers’ Vice President, Gary Goodman; and Treasurer, John Stuart, took delivery of the camera from Visionflex’s Elke Harman on October 19.

“We raised the money through our general fundraising,” explained John, who owns three FJ Holdens.

“We have a strong sense of community and we decided that we wanted to help the new hospital and buy them the camera.”

John, who also advises on local health matters as a member of Mudgee’s Health Council, said that equipment such as the GEIS® Camera is an important tool in delivering optimum health outcomes for rural patients. It also reduces the need to transport patients to either Dubbo Base Hospital which is a two hour drive away, or further afield to Sydney, for face-to-face specialist care.

The GEIS® Camera – which stands for General Examination Imaging System – is a handheld device that captures medical-grade quality images and HD video for a wide range of examinations, meaning that healthcare professionals can connect remotely with a patient regardless of where they are located.

In Mudgee Hospital, staff will be mainly using the GEIS® camera to perform detailed wound reviews on patients.

Mudgee Hospital’s Health Service Manager, Caren Harrison, said that the camera will be in regular use in the hospital which treats around 40-50 emergency patients and up to 20 in-patients each day.

The hospital currently relies on outdated camera technology when doing ward rounds, meaning that for detailed wound examinations, patients are often sent to the hospital emergency department to use its critical care camera. If the hospital is busy, patients requiring wound review can require transportation to Dubbo Base Hospital which is 125km away.

Now, with the GEIS® Camera, patients will be treated on the ward at Mudgee Hospital.

Another GEIS® Camera is on order for the Gulgong Multi-Purpose Centre which is 30km from Mudgee. This smaller medical facility has an emergency department, acute-care beds, and six residential aged care beds. The GEIS® Camera will help staff connect remotely with specialist care at other hospitals.

Telehealth, according to Caren, is continuing to play an important role in rural medicine, especially in the treatment of non-urgent health issues, such as specialist visits.

“Sometimes, that would involve a three-and-a-half-hour trip to Sydney, but during Covid-19 lockdown, we couldn’t travel out of area, or people didn’t want to travel to hotspots,” said Caren.

“I am a mother of three and I don’t want to have to go to Sydney to see a pediatrician; so, using telehealth to access healthcare has made a really big difference.”

Caren still has some other items on her hospital wish list, including Visionflex’s Digital Stethoscope and the Video Otoscope for ear, nose and throat examinations.

“We have a very generous community,” said Caren. “for a small, local town, it’s nice for people to be involved in the local hospital.”

You can find out more about our range of Visionflex products and speak to us about rural telehealth by clicking here.

Check out a wonderful article also here in the Mudgee Guardian.