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Child psychiatry delivered via video link

Tuesday, 25 February 2020  
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eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth

 

A child psychiatrist in Taranaki has dealt with a doubling in his workload by delivering nearly 20 per cent of his appointments via telehealth.

 

Yariv Doron says he has reduced wait times and increased his accessibility since introducing virtual appointments and direct email access for patients in mid-2019.

 

Taranaki DHB’s clinical information reference group is now looking at how to expand telehealth to other services, using child psychiatry as an exemplar.

 

Doron was one of two child psychiatrists at the DHB until his colleague retired last year and, despite a recruitment drive, a suitable replacement has not been found.

 

This left him covering a lot of extra patients, including a regional clinic at Hawera Hospital that involved a 3-hour round car trip.

 

To cope with the demand, Doron started offering appointments by Zoom directly to wherever a patient is or through a dedicated video conference link at Hawera Hospital.

 

As his clients are young, he says the idea of meeting virtually was a “no brainer” to them and within weeks up to 20 per cent took up the opportunity.

 

He also offers all his clients (face to face and telehealth) a messaging service where they can email him with an issue and expect a response within 24 hours. He sets aside 30 mins every morning to deal with these messages and usually gets six to seven a day.

 

Doron feared the email option would be abused, but says all his clients and families have been respectful and only used it where necessary.

 

In some cases it has allowed him to discharge clients earlier as he has been alerted to medication or other issues more quickly than if patients had to wait for their next appointment.

 

“I'm ‘seeing clients’ far more frequently and I’m responding in real time to things that have happened,” he tells eHealthNews.nz.

 

Telehealth has been a huge help for young clients who live rurally or whose parents live far apart, as all family members can be involved in a session using technology.

 

It also helped a young boy with anxiety problems who cannot attend face to face appointments so now has them via Zoom on a tablet computer in his bedroom. Doron says this allows the boy to feel safe and in control but still get treatment.

 

“If I'm not available for kids to see me, I literally can’t sleep at night,” he says.

 

“With telehealth we’ve reduced wait times, increased accessibility and I can cope with the numbers. It's been phenomenal.”

 

Read more about Yariv Doron in the feature article A passion for using technology to transform healthcare.

 

If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.

 

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