Geriatric ward rounds by video conference: a solution for rural hospitals
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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.
Medical Journal of Australia
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified