Orthopaedic Telehealth – Specialist care closer to home

Christina McInally 1

Telehealth Coordinator, Rockhampton Hospital, North Rockhampton, QLD, Australia



The Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Service in the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) provides specialist orthopaedic care to patients throughout Central Queensland and Central West areas. The Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Service has shown innovation and determination to meet the ever increasing patient demand by providing Telehealth to orthopaedic patients. Orthopaedic Medical and Nursing staff identified there are patients from outlying areas requiring ongoing access to Specialist Orthopaedic care and the distance patients were travelling for this service was immense.


The Orthopaedic team commenced a Telehealth model of care to ensure equitable access to specialist care for patients in rural and remote areas of Central Queensland and Central West. The Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Clinic with Rockhampton Hospital as the provider uses large wall hung screens, which provide a high definition view of the patient and their fracture or wound. With the recipient sites having similar equipment, this then enables the Orthopaedic Medical Officer and nurse in Rockhampton to control the camera at the recipient site to view the wound, sutures or functionality of the patient’s body.

The clinic can see patients who are review postoperative fractures, postoperative joint replacements, external fixations, ongoing rehabilitation assessment and range of movement checks.


The number of patients seen through the Orthopaedic Outpatient Telehealth Service in 2015/16 has grown to a phenomenal 3437 patients. The service has established a positive reputation within the communities so much so that patients contact the department directly to see if their appointment can be performed through telehealth. Many of the reasons for their request include work restrictions, inability to drive due to type of injury, too much time off school for the child and children who suffer from travel sickness or too much expense purchasing fuel for such a long distance drive.  We have had a significant impact on the cost savings through patient travel subsidies, which has shown a $2 million worth of savings across the CQHHS for 2015/16 financial year.

Orthopaedic patients can experience pain and discomfort because of their injury, which can be very distressing if the patient needs to travel in a car for up to 4 to 5 hours. Telehealth is one of the options available to these patients when travelling long distances is very challenging and expensive for the patient.


The Telehealth Service of Central Queensland is striving for excellence through effective and sustainable delivery of Telehealth services to patients throughout Central Queensland and surrounding districts. This presentation will explore how the service was initially set up, the requirements of clinical/non-clinical staff involved in the clinic, equipment required, the referral process, types of patients clinically appropriate for Orthopaedic Telehealth, why the clinic is so successful and ongoing maintenance required ensuring the Orthopaedic Telehealth Clinic is run in accordance to policy and procedures.

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