Emergency Telehealth Service

Telehealth in action

The Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS), run by the WA Country Health Service, provides specialist emergency medical support to doctors and nurses in country Western Australia by video and voice call. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to more than 80 small hospitals and nursing posts around the state.

The ETS helps address the challenge of providing access to specialist emergency care in smaller regional and remote health centres located across WACHS’s 2.5 million square kilometre remit. These centres don’t have enough emergency presentations to sustain the full-time emergency medicine specialist teams based in larger centres.

The ETS ensures regional and remote patients receive the same access to emergency medicine specialists as city patients. It helps local country clinicians save lives and provide an emergency response for critically ill and injured patients. It is believed to be the only dedicated round-the-clock emergency medicine support service available by videoconference in the world.

How does the Emergency Telehealth Service work?

The ETS uses high definition videoconferencing technology to link doctors and nurses in rural and remote sites to specialist emergency doctors who assist with the diagnosis, treatment and transfer of critically ill and injured emergency patients.
 
The ETS is particularly valuable where there is no on-call doctor available to smaller regional hospital sites and nurses need to access a doctor. It provides a greater level of medical support to regional areas and helps build knowledge and expertise of all regional clinical staff by supporting their professional development and reducing their professional isolation.  

How does the technology work?

The telehealth equipment – including a video screen and remote controlled camera which the ETS doctor can use to zoom in on a patient – is installed in resuscitation bays at participating country hospital or nursing post sites. It enables the ETS doctor to examine and talk to patients, and to guide local clinical staff in physical examinations and specialist emergency treatments.

Map of ETS sites in regional WA

Here are the current ETS sites (PDF, 708 KB) in regional WA and the proposed sites.

Contact details

WACHS, ETS Administration (office hours)

Phone: 9224 3848   Fax: 9224 3873

Email: ETS.WACHS@health.wa.gov.au

ETS facts and figures (as at July 2021)

  • Available at 86 hospitals, health services and nursing posts across the Wheatbelt, Great Southern, Goldfields, South West, Kimberley, Pilbara and Midwest regions.
  • More than 135,000 patient consultations via ETS since it was introduced (2012). Last year, 71 per cent of patients were treated at their local health centre and discharged home, reducing the numbers of patients transferred to a larger medical centre for further care.
  • ETS predominantly staffed by Fellows of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (FACEMs) who have extensive training and expertise in examining, diagnosing and treating emergency patients.
  • ETS also has a small number of non-specialist doctors, generally GPs or other medical officers, who have extensive emergency department experience and have previously worked in WA Country Health Service.
  • ETS emergency doctors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all of the hospitals.
  • ETS also provides educational and upskilling opportunities for nurses and GPs working in rural emergency departments using a ‘virtual classroom’ to run statewide education sessions.

 

Infographic showing 2021 telehealth figures

Click on the infographic above to view PDF version.

ETS in the media

2018

  1. Today Tonight - How technology helped a WA nurse save his own life
  2. New England Journal of Medicine
  3. Sydney Morning Herald – How and outback nurse diagnosed his own heart attack
  4. ABC Radio National Norman Swan interview
  5. Harvey Reporter – 24/7 help just a call away

2017

  1. Media Statement - Virtual emergency department goes 24/7
  2. GWN7 News Facebook page (GWN video story) – Coral Bay
  3. Daily Mail
  4. PerthNow webpage (Channel 7 video story)
  5. Open Gov Asia - Western Australia's Emergency Telehealth Service now available 24/7 from 78 rural and remote locations
  6. Sunday Times (July) How a doctor almost 300km away saved baby Chloe
  7. Narrogin Observer – A lifeline for little Chloe

2016

  1. Tech boosts health care (PDF) (Mid-West Times Nov)
  2. Patients benefit from virtual emergency care (PDF) (Broome Advertiser)
  3. The extraordinary technology that could be the difference between life and death... (Today Tonight, June)

2015

  1. Emergency Telehealth Service on Today Tonight 18 November 2015 (video courtesy of Today Tonight 7)
  2. Emergency Telehealth Service expands across the state (GWN story)
  3. Hands on health by remote: the Emergency Telehealth Service (ABC South West WA web article)

2014

  1. Powering people in the country – the Wi-Fi doctor service (The Guardian web article)
  2. WA to extend virtual ED telehealth service (Pulse+IT web article)
  3. Emergency Telehealth Service takes out ‘Improving Government’ award (Heartlands Wheatbelt newsletter)

2013

  1. Virtual emergency department expands in regional WA (ABC Rural – WA Country Hour)
  2. Virtual ED expands in regional WA (Media Statement from the Minister for Health Kim Hames)

 

 

Last Updated: 22/10/2021