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Digital & Innovation

Australia’s first virtual hospital marks milestone

Health Industry Hub | February 25, 2022 |
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Digital & Innovation: Australia’s first virtual hospital has provided care for more than 36,000 patients, as it marks two years at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“rpavirtual plays an important leadership role. It’s a ‘lighthouse’ service, guiding other local health districts and interstate health services about delivering hospital level care in the community,” said Dr Teresa Anderson, Sydney Local Health District’s Chief Executive.

Launched in February 2020, a 24-hour Virtual Care Centre and the Sydney District Nursing service are key to rpavirtual’s operations, with its model of care combining the latest in digital healthcare strategies and technology.

The purpose-built Virtual Care Centre is equipped with ‘Care Pods’ that include videoconferencing technology and the ability to remotely monitor patients with wearables.

As the COVID pandemic unfolded, rpavirtual rapidly redesigned its services to support the District’s response, with Sydney becoming the first Local Health District in New South Wales to provide virtual care for COVID-19 positive patients.

“rpavirtual has provided virtual care to more than 20,000 COVID-19 positive patients in self-isolation at home or in Special Health Accommodation, working in close collaboration with RPA’s respiratory, infectious diseases, emergency medicine and public health specialists,” commented Miranda Shaw, rpavirtual’s General Manager.

The team at the Virtual Care Centre has grown from an initial six Registered Nurses to more than 70 staff including doctors, a multidisciplinary allied health team, a Digital Patient Navigator and a new Aboriginal Cultural Response Team.

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Patient feedback has been positive with 88% of patients reporting they felt confident at home knowing they were being supported virtually and 81% said the technologies used by rpavirtual improved their access to care and treatment.

rpavirtual has won a NSW Premier’s Award for Digital Excellence, been named runner-up in the National Value Based Healthcare Awards and received the Board Chair Award for Excellence at the District’s 2020 Innovation and Excellence Awards.

“Our team has also shared its learnings about virtual care with more than 50 agencies in Australia and internationally at conferences and forums in Malaysia, Singapore, the US and UK,” Ms Shaw said.

While rpavirtual continues to play a significant role in the pandemic response, it has also introduced the first virtual fracture clinic in NSW, medication monitoring and a new model of care for rehabilitation patients is also set to soon begin.


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