Just what the doctor ordered: A new QLD research project into telehealth sustainability


How can GPs, nurse practitioners, and allied health professionals improve and sustain their telehealth video conferencing service for patients in a post-pandemic world?

A new PhD research project at The University of Queensland is hoping to find out exactly how!

The Centre for Online Health’s (COH) PhD candidate, Keshia De Guzman (pictured below), is currently recruiting GPs, nurse practitioners and allied health professionals who work in primary health care, to participate in her PhD project. Participants are required to take part in one-on-one interviews for approximately 30 minutes with Ms De Guzman about their experience establishing and/or using a telehealth service with patients.

Ms De Guzman anticipates that the interview results will identify logistical factors influencing telehealth delivery in primary care, which will help develop recommendations for GPs and other primary healthcare workers who want to improve, or establish, a telehealth video conferencing service.

“There is very little information available on telehealth in primary care and I’m hoping the GPs and other interview participants will provide us with plenty of ideas on how we can improve the uptake of telehealth and what they feel would help them incorporate video conferencing into their workflow,” said Ms De Guzman, who is based in the COH’s Centre for Health Services Research in the university’s Faculty of Medicine.

“I will be talking with clinicians to find out what they’re having issues with; what are the difficulties and challenges and then thinking of ways we can improve those systems and increase video conference uptake.”

Ms De Guzman said that at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services in the primary healthcare sector expanded rapidly, however, the speed of expansion also meant that most practices had little time to craft a telehealth service that integrated seamlessly into their workflow.

Now, said Ms Guzman, it is time for clinicians to pause and re-evaluate the effectiveness, and also the future, of their telehealth service.

“I think it’s such an interesting space because telehealth has so many benefits for patients, particularly in Australia because we have so many rural communities and there are challenges delivering healthcare. I think there is a lot of room for telehealth to grow.

“Obviously, there are going to be scenarios where you need to have patient contact and you need to have a physical diagnosis, so it’s also about trying to integrate telehealth into the current model of care and working out where it is best used and where it is most appropriate.”

The Centre for Online Health (COH) has been exploring telehealth for more than 20 years. The COH team develops, implements, and evaluates new telehealth-supported models of care, and gathers evidence to help better understand how to integrate telehealth into clinical practice and policy.

In Queensland, the COH supports the Metro South Health telehealth service, based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital – one of the largest providers of public health services in Brisbane.

The COH also provides consultancy, education, and training services for the Australian Government and the telehealth industry.

If you are a GP, nurse practitioner, or allied health professional working in primary health, and you would like to participate in Keshia De Guzman’s research project, please email uqkdeguz@uq.edu.au

For more information on the Centre for Online Health, click here.

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