Sarah Jensen1, Jason Warnock1
1Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Brisbane, Australia
Early assessment and management of foot disease (ulcer, infection, ischaemia and acute Charcot) is associated with improved outcomes, including reducing hospitalisation and preventable amputations. Across Queensland access to interdisciplinary high risk foot services is a key component to improving clinical outcomes for persons with foot disease.
In response, the Queensland Department of Health has provided recurrent funding for a 1.0 full-time equivalent position to both Metro North (MN) Hospital and Health Service (HHS) and Cairns and Hinterland (CH) HHS to deliver a Statewide Podiatry Telehealth Service, one component of a broader $4.7 million investment to ambulatory high risk foot services across the state.
The aim of this new service will be to increase the accessibility of podiatry input to foot disease management where patients are unable to access equivalent services within their local communities. Piloting of the model of care will commence in MNHHS from February 2019. The initial phase of the model of care will be the discharge transference of care from tertiary hospital to local healthcare providers. Given this cohort’s high risk for rehospitalisation, coordination and continuity of care between hospital and community is vital. This service provision is expected to result in improved outcomes for consumers and reduce the need to travel unnecessary for specialist reviews. Evaluation of the pilot will focus on the effectiveness of the Statewide Podiatry Telehealth Service to:
- improve more equitable access to specialised high risk foot podiatry input
- provide a clinically effective and efficient means to deliver foot disease management
- build a broader health workforce’s skills and confidence in caring for persons with foot disease.
The findings from the pilot phase are expected to provide valuable learnings in establishing a safe and effective model of care by July 2019 and encourage other HHSs to incorporate podiatry telehealth as part of their service provision.
Jason Warnock is the MNHHS Director of Podiatry