Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) performs over 140 kidney transplant operations annually. Kidney transplant recipients require regular medical review, which results in loss of time and costs from travel, particularly for regional patients, and places high demand on the hospital outpatient service.
The RMH renal transplant unit initiated a telehealth service in 2016 to provide cost effective, patient-centred clinical care for regional patients. To date, 263 clinical reviews have been conducted via telehealth, potentially saving 203,202 kilometres in travel distance; 2771 hours in car travel time; an estimated AUD $31,048 in petrol savings and 51 tonnes CO2 equivalents of greenhouse gas emissions.
Lessons learnt have included the importance of using technology that allows patients to access telehealth from their place of choice. The option of a joint consultation with local healthcare providers has facilitated the development of extended care networks for our patients. Incorporation of telehealth into our outpatient system has been achieved with the existing nephrology workforce, making it a sustainable long-term review option.
Our renal transplant telehealth outpatient clinic has been a successful change in the way we provide care to regional patients. Formal comparison of clinical outcomes and the patient experience of telehealth versus in person reviews are underway.