A grant from the Western Health Foundation is supporting research into the application of virtual technology in the diagnosis and treatment of fractures.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up many unique challenges for the healthcare sector, it has also presented opportunities to adopt new and innovative means of patient care and service delivery.
Rebecca Pile, an Advanced Practice Physiotherapist at Western Health, is part of a team that manages the physiotherapy-led Virtual Fracture Clinic at Western Health. The adult clinic commenced in 2017, and in response to COVID, the service was extended to the paediatric clinic in July 2020.
"In 2019, there were over 6,000 paediatric fracture appointments provided at Western Health," says Rebecca. "To limit the number of patients coming into hospital during the pandemic and thereby reduce the risk of COVID transmission, the decision was made to extend our virtual service to younger patients."
Rebecca oversaw an initial four-month trial between July and October 2020, which, based on the positive results, saw the clinic permanently implemented two days a week.
By offering virtual clinics for straight-forward fractures, families avoid travel time and lengthy waits in busy waiting rooms. Absenteeism from work and school is significantly reduced.
Whilst the clinic operates under a physiotherapy led model, Orthopaedic consultants are still on hand to provide clinical advice meaning care is not compromised.
A grant from the Western Health Foundation will enable Rebecca to further her research into the implications of applying the physiotherapy-led paediatric virtual clinic model.
"We hope that our research will show that our smallest patients and their families are happy and benefit from best care here at Western Health. On the other side, we aim to show the positive implications for our health service including; cost, safety and clinical outcomes. Our research should prove that everyone benefits from this model of care."
Staff grants provided through the Western Health Foundation are made possible by generous donations from our supporters and through our sponsor partners Maxxia, BankVic, Hesta and Medtronic.