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Virtual doctors trialled as the future of health and home care

Holographic health professionals could be the future of in home care in Australia if a newly launched Australia-first trial of a comprehensive care model takes off.

A new care model, which features holographic doctors and video call technology, is being trialled (Source: Shutterstock)
A new care model, which features holographic doctors and video call technology, is being trialled (Source: Shutterstock)

The Integrum Aged Care+ initiative, developed by care providers Silver Chain Group and supported by the Western Australian Primary Health Alliance and Federal Government, is designed to support senior Australians with complex care needs and chronic health conditions to remain in their homes as long as possible, with the technology also promising to reduce hospitalisation.

Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt launched the trial, which was given $948,400 in funding support by the Federal Government through the Perth North and Perth South Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

He adds that the limited pre-trial had returned positive feedback from those involved and laid the groundwork for the next stage of the program.

“This trial aims to overcome the challenges of fragmented care and poorer patient experiences, which can happen when a person is transferred between hospitals, specialists and aged care providers,” Minister Wyatt says.

“[It will be] offered to up to 300 people with multiple chronic conditions who have been hospitalised between one and five times in the previous year.

“It’s hoped that through Integrum, older Australians will have more control over their care, through a wraparound network that delivers both health and social support.”

The trial will include an Australian-first application of the Enhanced Medical Mixed Reality interface, allowing health professionals to link with doctors and data through holograms and video conferencing, which they are visiting client’s’ homes.

The Minister says clients will have access to a dedicated team, including an Integrum doctor, case manager, support workers and allied health clinicians to ensure their needs are identified and supported throughout their journey.

“The Silver Chain Integrum team will communicate with the client’s regular GP, if they have one, to complement the care they provide as part of a shared care model,” he says.

“This care team will oversee and manage processes like care planning, coordination of health and aged care services, referrals and escalation of care, if needed.

“This project is an outstanding example of how PHNs collaborate with communities to improve people’s health, through innovative and tailored care.”

Silver Chain Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lyn Jones says the organisation, as providers of both health care and aged care services, is “uniquely positioned” to implement this innovative ‘wrap-around’ approach to care.

“Too often we hear the story of people who are transferred between hospitals, specialists, primary care and aged care providers, receiving fragmented care and a confusing overall experience,” she explains.

“We are creating an exemplary model of care for an important group of older Australians and believe it will reduce the frequency of hospital, emergency department and residential aged care admissions.”

Silver Chain will be responsible for the ongoing funding of the trial.

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