WESTERN Health has teamed up with the Royal Melbourne Hospital to open Australia’s first virtual fracture clinics.
The Virtual Fracture Care service (V-FRAC), which is being trialled this year and funded by Better Care Victoria, allows adult patients with simple fractures to be managed remotely by physiotherapists and consultants.
And while only in its second month at Western Health, the innovative program is already improving patient access to fracture care and reducing demand on the orthopaedic fracture clinic.
Virtual Fracture Clinic Project lead Narelle Watson and coordinator Becky Pile said V-FRAC had been modelled on a successful UK program. Both Western Health and the Royal Melbourne Hospital began trialling their new clinics this year.
To be eligible for the virtual clinic, patients must have a simple orthopaedic fracture, such as a toe fracture or shoulder dislocation, or soft tissue injury.
“Prior to this initiative, patients with simple fractures would present to the emergency department and then return to the busy Western Health fracture clinic for ongoing management,” Ms Watson said. “Through V-FRAC, these patients can now receive all their post-emergency department care over the phone.”
Under the program, the digital imaging and clinical notes of eligible patients are assessed within 24 hours (or three days over a weekend) by an advanced practice physiotherapist and orthopaedic consultant. Patients are then given detailed information about how to manage their injury over the phone, and given the opportunity to ask questions, during a “virtual consultation”.
Patients are also given phone and email contact details for their V-FRAC clinician, and all management details are sent to their GP. Patients can still opt for a traditional face-to-face orthopaedic clinic appointment at any stage.
(Photo) Rob Pianta, orthopaedic consultant; Narelle Watson, project lead;Phong Tran, head of orthopaedics; Mel Shackell, physiotherapy manager;and Becky Pile, project co-ordinator.