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COVID-19 has changed the way we interact with patients and increased our reliance on Telehealth.
Thousands of patients each month are now attending appointments via phone/video rather than coming into hospital to help reduce the risk of the virus spreading. This number is up from just 37 telehealth calls in January 2020.
This transition could not have happened without the support of our volunteers, who’ve been instrumental in helping our patients access Telehealth.
The contribution of our Telehealth Volunteer team has been recognised with the team taking out Volunteering Victoria's 2020 COVID-19 Innovation Award.
They've been acknowledged for thinking of new ways to support patients, despite not being able to undertake their traditional roles in hospital.
“I’m proud as punch to see our Telehealth volunteers recognised in this way,” says Manager of Volunteer Engagement, Tracey O’Neill.
“Since April 2020, our amazing team of 16 Telehealth volunteers have contacted over 3,000 patients to support them to set up and test their devices, so they’re ready for their Telehealth consultation. They've also helped by ensuring that patients are comfortable accessing the online waiting room.
“They’ve provided remote comfort to many anxious patients who have felt exceptionally cared for by Austin Health due to this personalised program.
“Our volunteer team have really enjoyed being able to support patients in this way, given they haven’t been able to come into our hospitals to support patients face-to-face.”
Tracey looks forward to expanding the Telehealth volunteering program in 2021.
“We’re planning to grow the team, so that we’re able to run a trial where volunteers phone patients who haven’t responded to their initial appointment reminder message, to make sure they're aware of their upcoming Telehealth appointment."
The Telehealth volunteer program is an example of how volunteers contribute to providing reliable, safe and person-centred care to our patients.