Queensland first – world leading virtual care technology introduced to support remote consultations in COVID-19 wards

Gold Coast Health has implemented a Queensland first – world-leading virtual care technology to support remote consultations in COVID-19 wards via a bedside terminal. The announcement follows last month’s Public Health Direction from the Queensland government outlining a best practice approach to managing safety for patients and staff within designated COVID-19 hospitals.

Gold Coast Health deployed Rauland Australia’s (Rauland) Concierge platform at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) to reduce patient contact in the COVID-19 ward. The Hospital is now equipped with high-tech bedside terminal solutions, enabling remote consultations into the designated COVID-19 ward. Patients and staff can communicate face to face via the bedside terminal with no human contact.

The implementation of the Concierge platform follows an increase in COVID-19 transmission cases in Queensland and New South Wales hospitals amongst patients and staff.

Gold Coast Health’s Clinical Director overseeing the COVID-19 ward, Dr Kylie Alcorn said the platform improves patient engagement.

“The virtual care capability was recently added to the platform to enable staff to easily communicate with patients using video conferencing without creating the risk of entering patient areas. It is one thing to talk on the phone to a patient while looking at their observations on a computer screen, but to see the patient, even virtually, gives the treating doctor a more complete picture as well as cementing a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship that is hard to do on the phone,” said Dr Alcorn.

Evidence dictates that restricting hospital visitors and moving as many interactions as possible to virtual channels can help to protect healthcare workers and patients from COVID-19.

According to Medicare Group Reports (Category 1: all professional attendees for July 2018 – June 2019), virtual care attendances in hospitals accounted for less than 0.1 percent of all federally-funded attendances in Australia before COVID-19.

Cameron Burt, Chief Executive Officer from Rauland Australia comments, “The high-tech Concierge platform has enabled hospital staff to continue to provide quality care to their patients, whilst maintaining a safe environment. The long term partnership allowed a solution to be rapidly deployed to the designated COVID-19 ward, significantly reducing the risk to patients and staff.

“The media has recently reported on several COVID-19 transmission between patients and staff in hospitals, which will only increase if more virtual care measures are not put in place to further mitigate risk. We actively work with the healthcare sector to continually improve and adapt the Concentric Care platform encompassing Concierge to provide solutions that add value.”

“Throughout history epidemics have driven rapid changes in healthcare and COVID-19 is no different. Since COVID-19, healthcare has been innovating. New triaging models, online assessment tools, smart phone symptom-checkers, observation management at home and multi-disciplinary patient case conferences online are example of high-tech innovation,” said Vickie Knight, Clinical Services Executive at Rauland Australia.

“Most of the healthcare sector is currently experiencing a shortage of staff due to the pandemic. Positive COVID-19 cases in hospitals and aged care facilities have taken out entire shifts of staff and in several cases, there are no back-up casual staff to fill the roster. Staff are fearful and wanting to protect their families. Virtual care is minimising face-to-face contact nursing, therefore reducing exposure risk. Patients have adapted to virtual care and satisfaction is high.”

The Concierge platform is a combination of Siemens HiMed bedside terminals and Rauland’s Concierge software and services. The platform delivers significant value to health services through supporting patient engagement. Features in use at GCUH include Telehealth, on-demand patient education, patient information, electronic meal ordering, patient communications and entertainment.

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