Associate Professor Adam Bird1, Dr Kate Bridgman1, Dr Shane Erickson1, Dr Lisa Furlong1
1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
The engagement of allied health students in telehealth consultations whilst on clinical placement has rapidly increased due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. It is likely that the access and economic benefits of telehealth for both clients and clinicians will lead to long-term maintenance of such consultations in healthcare in Australia.
Although the uptake of telehealth consultations has been at varying levels across AH disciplines, where it has been utilised health education providers and clinical placement agencies have quickly adapted their clinical learning and practicum pathways. The authors contend that this change in placement model may have been in the absence of scaffolded theoretical and practical telehealth coursework, and that collectively allied health students are not well prepared for working in telehealth environments. Furthermore, use of telehealth consultations on clinical placement has little supporting literature as to the appropriateness in supplementing or replacement of assessed traditional face-to-face placements, that are a crucial component of educating health practitioners.
The authors would like to present an approach for embedding telehealth competencies into entry-level programs in Allied Health, that may have utility across the sector, and include a common interdisciplinary component. Additionally, this will outline the design of simulated telehealth teaching spaces that could serve double duty as clinical consultation rooms for Internal University clinics, and working in conjunction with partners in delivery of services related to clinical placements.
Adam is a Podiatrist and the Associate Head of School of Allied Health, Human Services and Sport at La Trobe University.