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NSLHD’s virtual care revolution

Northern Sydney Local Health District Virtual Care and Hospital in the Home Service is helping hundreds of patients avoid emergency departments by providing expert clinical assessment and medical care closer to home.

The ED Alternative Referral Pathway established at NSLHD in 2022 has proven to be successful in improving patients’ experience and easing the burden on busy emergency departments.

Since April 2022, over 300 patients have avoided a trip to an emergency department and received treatment at their home or have been treated by a team of medical and nursing staff through video consultations from the virtual hospital.

Its success was celebrated at the recent NSLHD Elevating Human Experience Forum, where patients gave their first-hand accounts of using the service.

NSLHD Virtual Care and Hospital in the Home Service General Manager Chenyao (Jerry) Yu said the ED Alternative Pathway was a great example of how our health system is putting patients first and finding new ways to care for people.

“The ED Alternative Pathway saves a person a trip to the emergency department, and they can receive care straight away,” he said.

“Patients who have used the pathway like it because they receive the care in the comfort of their own homes, and this frees up our clinicians in ED to treat the really urgent and critical patients.”

Our aim is to build a single front door to acute and urgent care services for patients who can call through and depending on the acuity of their condition, can receive care virtually, or be referred to one of clinics, and not need to go through emergency departments
NSLHD Virtual Care and Hospital in the Home Service General Manager Chenyao (Jerry) Yu

Patients who dial Triple Zero, who are not suffering an emergency episode, meet a strict criteria and live within the NSLHD catchment area, can be referred to the NSLHD Virtual Care Service (virtual hospital) by NSW Ambulance. They can be triaged by paramedics either over the phone or at the scene. If their condition is determined to be non-life-threatening, they are directly connected to a team of doctors and nurses.

Jerry said depending on the patient’s condition, a paramedic may have already started treatment such as providing IV antibiotics, prior to a nurse attending who will go directly to the person’s home.

As part of NSLHD ED Alternative Services, many patients are treated through the Virtual Care and Hospital in the Home Service which provides care by a team of medical, nursing and allied health staff, and follow up with the patients through telehealth.

“Our aim is to build a single front door to acute and urgent care services for patients who can call through and depending on the acuity of their condition, can receive care virtually, or be referred to one of clinics, and not need to go through emergency departments,” Jerry said.

NSW Health celebrated Human Experience Week (29 April to 3 May) which recognises the opportunities where staff can make a positive impact to the lives of everyone who comes in contact with NSW Health.

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