Geriatric ward rounds by video conference: a solution for rural hospitals

TitleGeriatric ward rounds by video conference: a solution for rural hospitals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGray L.C, Wright O.R, Cutler A.J, Scuffham P.A, Wootton R.
JournalMed J Aust
Date PublishedDec 7-21
ISBN Number0025-729X (Print)<br/>0025-729X (Linking)
Accession Number20028277
Keywords*Hospitals, Rural, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Continuity of Patient Care/economics, Costs and Cost Analysis, Female, Health Services for the Aged/*economics, Humans, Male, Patient Satisfaction, Prospective Studies, Queensland, Remote Consultation/*economics, Teaching Rounds/*economics, Videoconferencing/economics

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the acceptance and cost of a ward-based geriatric consultation service delivered via a mobile videoconferencing system. DESIGN AND SETTING: Prospective observational study conducted in the geriatric unit of Toowoomba Base Hospital, Queensland, comparing a specialist consultation service delivered by videoconference (VC) with a "traditional" in-person service. The VC system was established in January 2007 and evaluated over an 18-month period. Patient satisfaction with the service was assessed by questionnaire during a 1-week period in September 2008. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Hospital acceptance of the service; patient satisfaction with the service; comparative cost of providing in-person and VC-mediated consultations. RESULTS: Uptake of the service increased progressively throughout the study period. Patient acceptance levels were high. The cost of video consultations for a 12-patient ward round and case conference was less than the cost of in-person consultations if the total road distance travelled by the specialist (Brisbane to Toowoomba and back) was 125 km or longer. CONCLUSION: Consultations via VC are an acceptable alternative to in-person consultations, and are less expensive than in-person consultations for even modest distances travelled by the clinician.