Teleoncology for Indigenous patients: The responses of patients and health workers

Authors

  • Jennifer K. Mooi MbCHB, FRACGP,

    1. Department of Medical Oncology, Townsville Cancer Centre, Townsville Hospital, Townsville
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lisa J. Whop B Med Sc, M App Epid,

    1. Health Systems and Epidemiology Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Patricia C. Valery MD, MPH, PhD,

    1. Health Systems and Epidemiology Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sabe S. Sabesan BMBS(Flinders), FRACP

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical Oncology, Townsville Cancer Centre, Townsville Hospital, Townsville
    2. School of Medicine and Dentistry, The James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
      Dr Sabe S. Sabesan, Medical Oncology, Townsville Cancer Centre, Townsville Hospital, 100 Angus Smith Drive, Townsville, Queensland, 4814, Australia. Email: sabe_sabesan@health.qld.gov.au
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr Sabe S. Sabesan, Medical Oncology, Townsville Cancer Centre, Townsville Hospital, 100 Angus Smith Drive, Townsville, Queensland, 4814, Australia. Email: sabe_sabesan@health.qld.gov.au

Abstract

Problem:  Townsville Cancer Centre provides video-consultation (VC) services to patients in rural/remote regions of North Queensland in order to improve access to specialist cancer care. The experience and responses of indigenous patients using this service have not been studied. Our objective is to assess the level of satisfaction and the responses of Indigenous patients, their families and health workers (HWs) to VC and such teleoncology service.

Design:  Descriptive study, using semistructured interviews.

Setting:  Tertiary referral centre (Townsville Cancer Centre) and various rural and remote towns in Queensland.

Key measures for improvement:  Satisfaction levels of Indigenous patients, their family members and Indigenous HWs with various aspects of the teleoncology service.

Lessons learnt:  Our evaluation suggests that teleoncology is an acceptable model of care for Indigenous patients, with high levels of satisfaction expressed from patients, families and HWs. Health professionals involved with providing this service need to be adaptive to the needs of individual patients and local communities in order to provide culturally appropriate care. Formal skills training for staff, effective communication between specialist and local HWs, and informed consent procedures are essential to maintain safety of practices. Strategies for change are:

  • • Mandatory informed consent procedure for all patients offered with VC.
  • • Formalised competency training for staff in skills essential to maintain safe practices in teleoncology.
  • • Clear clinical documentation to facilitate improved communication in patient management between medical staff at main centre and distant sites.
  • • Further efforts in promotion, education and support for staff to participate in telemedicine.

Ancillary