RFBI rolls out telehealth service

RFBI has begun introducing telehealth services at its aged care villages to improve access to health professionals.

Aged care and retirement living provider RFBI has begun introducing telehealth services at its residential aged care villages to address challenges residents have accessing general practitioners, specialists and other health professionals.

With a $150,000 investment plus grant funding from six Primary Health Networks, the NSW and ACT provider has so far purchased high-tech Visionflex telehealth carts and diagnostic equipment for 19 of its 22 villages.

“It is our goal to have a cart in all of our villages in the near future,” RFBI digital health manager and nurse practitioner Amanda Woodlands told Australian Ageing Agenda. Ms Woodlands – who RFBI hired in 2022 to strengthen its virtual care capabilities – is leading the rollout.

“Our goal is to deliver equitable accessible healthcare, through a flexible model of care, which improves health outcomes for our residents – such as reduced wait times, reduced hospital visits and early intervention – and enables a continuum of care.”

While each village has its own access gaps to bridge, RFBI’s telehealth program will broadly target video sessions with GPs, specialists, nurse practitioners, allied health professionals and outreach services. Clinical focus areas include geriatrics, palliative care, wounds, pain management, dental and mental health.

Prior to joining RFBI, Ms Woodlands was the geriatric outreach nurse practitioner for Southern NSW Health, where she implemented and supported telehealth services in residential aged care.

A key part of RFBI’s telehealth program is the TGA-approved Visionflex technology, which is one of the leading telehealth solutions in Australia, said Ms Woodlands.

“It is not just a telehealth cart that is able to perform visual and audio consultations. It has improved diagnostic tools that take the consultation to that next level,” she said.

“The exam camera, stethoscope, wound lens, otoscope and ECG are just some of the advanced functions that produce high quality images and recordings enabling a clinician to conduct a comprehensive consultation that is not limited by location, again providing a flexible model of care,” Ms Woodlands told AAA.

RFBI Moonbi Masonic Village care manager Babita Adhikari (right) with resident Joan during the telehealth show-and-tell event

As part of the rollout, RFBI began a series of show-and-tell events this week for residents, families and health professionals at the villages to see the technology in action. On Wednesday the team visited RFBI Moonbi Masonic Village.

“Residents were very engaged with the new technology and were looking forward to the benefits this will bring to them and their health professionals,” said Ms Woodland.

Those benefits are about improving access to care rather than replacing best-practice face-to-face consultations with telehealth services, she said.

“The amount of telehealth appointments as opposed to face-to-face appointments will be different for individual residents and locations depending on what medical care they need to access, how frequently and what availability there is in their local community,” she said.

“Right now though, we know some of our residents are unable to access the medical practitioners they need – which means they are missing out or having to wait a long time to see them and we hope our telehealth services will reduce this.”

Main image: (L to R:) Babita Adhikari, Amanda Woodlands and Dr Jodie Parkes with the telehealth cart at RFBI Moonbi Masonic Village

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Tags: amanda-woodlands, rfbi, telehealth, visionflex,

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