Sydney Local Health District opens the first virtual hospital in New South Wales
Sydney Local Health District has begun a trial of the first virtual hospital in New South Wales.
The RPA Virtual Hospital or rpavirtual, as it will be known, has started operations in a purpose-built space on the hospital campus.
It’s a new model of care which combines the District’s provision of care in the community with the latest digital healthcare strategies.
“It’s a new way of connecting with our patients. rpavirtual will offer a 24/7 personalised service,” the District’s chief executive, Dr Teresa Anderson AM, said.
Virtual models around the world have allowed major tertiary referral hospitals to improve patient experience by delivering care in the home rather than in a hospital.
The first patients invited to enrol in rpavirtual include a select number of palliative care patients, adult patients with cystic fibrosis and patients at risk of recurring lower leg wounds.
Patients who accept an invitation to enrol with rpavirtual will have access to a registered nurse through the rpavirtual Care Centre.
They – or their carer - can contact the nurse using a loaned smart device, which will also offer the capability of recording and updating health information.
Care will be delivered by telephone, video calling and also by remote monitoring of patient data and health information.
“Technology gives us the ability to connect our patients and their loved ones to the very best of care, when and where they need it most,” Miranda Shaw, the General Manager of rpavirtual, said.
The registered nurse will be able to arrange for home visits or refer patients to their hospital care team if needed.
“rpavirtual, as a new way of caring, is an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide enhanced medical services to our community,” Dr Owen Hutchings, the Clinical Director of rpavirtual, said.
It will extend the services provided through the Sydney District Nursing Team – which currently delivers in-home nursing care to more than 1,000 patients in the community at any one time.
“Sydney District Nursing has a proud history of providing excellent care in our community.
“rpavirtual will build on that legacy, and we hope inspire future generations of nurses to embrace all opportunities and all technologies that benefit our patients,” Cassandra Dearing, the Director of Nursing for rpavirtual, said.
The rpavirtual Care Centre team will support the earlier discharge of patients from hospital and integrated care in the comfort of their own homes – backed by regular monitoring during virtual ward rounds.
The model has the potential to cut the number of unnecessary Emergency Department presentations, reduce a patient’s length of stay in hospital and to empower patients, especially those with chronic illness, to lead a better quality of life.
“At the end of the day this is what our patients and their loved ones want. Comfort in the knowledge that they are connected to the best of care, at any time of the day.
“rpavirtual is more than excellent care. It is peace of mind for those who need it most. Our patients. Their families and loved ones,” Dr Anderson said.