There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for increased uptake of telehealth appointments.

Over the 12 months to 30 June 2020, telehealth consultations at Peter Mac rose by an astronomical 481% to 9,311 appointments.

October has been designated Telehealth Awareness Month in Victoria, and provides a good opportunity to reflect on the rapid deployment of telehealth-delivered services (video consultations) across the state.

This has been a welcome development for those in rural and regional Victoria, and indeed anyone hesitant to brave the city traffic and stress of leaving home when unwell.

Clinical Haematologist Associate Professor Max Wolf, who has been at Peter Mac some 40 years, says: “I’ve seen a lot of clinical and record-keeping advances during my time, this is one of the biggest – and most patients love it”.

From haematology and breast oncology to psychology and allied health, there are few services that can’t incorporate at least some telehealth delivery, allowing patients to minimise disruption and connect with their care providers from the comfort of their own home.

To cater for the increase in demand, and with the support of the Western & Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service, Peter Mac is fitting out another 106 rooms where telehealth services can be delivered.

Peter Mac Deputy Chief Medical Officer at Peter Mac, Associate Professor Kate Burbury credits the success of this cultural transformation to the willingness and open mindset of the hundreds of clinicians who have been upskilled and the thousands of patients who have embraced the tools available.

With the guidance, encouragement, and educational efforts of Peter Mac’s Telehealth team, high-quality and timely services have continued to be offered to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond – but delivered virtually.

Tips and reminders to make telehealth work for you

As more and more patients are realising the value of using telehealth, here are some helpful tips and reminders:

Telehealth can save time, money, stress and inconvenience

As telehealth is a virtual mode of care delivery, it can be accessed anywhere, allowing you to avoid travelling, disruption to your day, and the costs associated with transport, accommodation and anything else required to get to your appointment.

Telehealth can be for anyone

Video consultations allow you to continue accessing safe, high-quality and holistic care at a time and place that is convenient to you. While this is particularly helpful for those who have to travel a long way, telehealth is available at all Peter Mac clinics and can be used by anyone if suitable. If you think your appointment could be done by telehealth, please contact your Patient Navigator or the Peter Mac Telehealth team  to discuss. Of course, there will be times that a face to face appointment is required. But your Doctor will advise when telehealth may be appropriate for you.

Lights, camera, action!

To ensure your clinician can see and hear you, make sure you’re in a quiet place with adequate lighting, set up your camera at eye level, and don’t forget to plug in your device or ensure your battery is charged. Be ready with any questions you have or notes you may need, and remember to do a test call when considering telehealth, and ahead of your appointment. Please follow these Video Call Troubleshooting steps to resolve any issues you may have.

We’re here to help

You do not need to be a ‘tech wiz’ to use telehealth – all you need is a computer, phone or tablet and an internet connection – we’ll guide you through the set-up and process to make it as easy as possible. Remember that you can also conduct your telehealth consultations with your GP, a Practice Nurse, Cancer Resource Nurse, or another support person – your treating team will work out the best option for you. For more details on what you’ll need, click here.

“Why NOT telehealth?”

Initial results from patient feedback surveys currently underway indicate that, for many, the move to telehealth has been a seamless and positive experience. Here’s what some Peter Mac patients have told us:

“Telehealth saves hours of time and travel, and hours of sitting in waiting rooms when not feeling well. It saves money for parking and eliminates the stress of trying to find a parking spot.”

“I would recommend telehealth to everyone, it was fantastic”

“Telehealth saved me so much time so I didn’t have to take more time off work.”

See and hear more about what our patients and regional clinicians have to say about their experience using telehealth.

Requesting telehealth