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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    The Honourable Geoff Wilson

    Minister awards telemedicine trial for sick infants

    The Honourable Geoff Wilson

    Thursday, September 01, 2011

    Minister awards telemedicine trial for sick infants

    An innovative telemedicine trial which reduces the risk for sick babies awaiting emergency retrieval has won the Minister’s ‘Best Innovation’ award at the 2011 Queensland Health Healthcare Improvement Awards.

    The telemedicine trial provides audiovisual links from remote locations to Brisbane, where specialists can assess the baby’s condition, colour, breathing and also examine images and scans in real time during this time critical period.

    This innovative use of telehealth is bringing excellent services closer to home for Queenslanders living in rural and remote areas.

    Health Minister Geoff Wilson said the telemedicine trial was developed by a team led by Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital neonatologist Dr Tim Donovan, in partnership with Centre for Online Health at the University of Queensland.

    “Dr Donovan’s work is an excellent example of how Queensland Health is investing in innovation and bringing that innovation to the bedside sooner.

    “I’d like to congratulate Dr Donovan on his award win, and for providing Queensland Health with better ways to treat sick babies in remote locations.

    “The trial proved that telemedicine is vital for providing remote advice and has improved infant care.

    “When a sick baby is waiting to be retrieved from a remote location, their chance of recovery can be improved by an early diagnosis and specialist assistance.

    “Before this new technology was trialled, doctors were only able to make decisions by phone without being able to see the baby or any images.

    “This new technology provides new information not previously available by phone and it has wide-reaching opportunities for healthcare delivery.

    “Since the trial began, five infant retrievals were avoided and new management techniques were developed in 14 percent of cases,” Mr Wilson said.

    The telemedicine program has been trialled with the Hervey Bay, Nambour, Caboolture and Redcliffe Hospitals, and there are plans to expand the program further.

    Dr Donovan said he was honoured to receive the award, particularly given the number of outstanding nominations.

    “This award is the result of strong commitment by Queensland Health nurses and doctors in both the large and smaller hospitals to improve outcomes for a vulnerable group in our population,” he said.

    The RBWH completes more than 169 neonatal retrievals each year, travelling about 66,500 km by plane, helicopter and road, with round trips ranging from 11 to 1500 kilometres.

    “It can take up to five hours to reach a sick baby and this trial showed that in these sick infants important changes in care can be assessed and delivered by telemedicine that are better than a telephone assessment.

    “We are excited by the improvement in healthcare that telemedicine can provide to rural and remote health services.”

    Minister Wilson said telehealth medicine is being adopted rapidly by Queensland Health staff.

    “Queensland Health has an ever-growing fleet of 900 plus telehealth systems, the largest and most sophisticated telehealth network in the country,” he said.

    “Queensland Health is providing an environment that encourages change and better ways of making a difference to people’s lives.

    “This is another example of the fantastic work that is being done by our staff around Queensland to ensure that we continue to be leading innovators in health care.

    “When our doctors and nurses say we need to do things differently to save lives, we listen.”
    The healthcare awards were held during Queensland Health Week to publicly recognise the dedication of Queensland Health’s workforce. This year's week is themed on Our People Our Stories, recognising the exceptional work provided by staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.