Telehealth brainwave for rural GPs seeking neurologist consults for patients

Neurologist, Geoffrey Boyce, consults with patients and their GPs from Cairns to Tasmania during his lunchbreak. An early adopter in telehealth consulting, Associate Professor Boyce (pictured), says that the opportunity to speak with the patient and their GP at the same time has real benefits for all three.

“The conversation I have with GPs allows them to describe the patient’s condition in more subtle detail than can be achieved with a penned note,” Dr Boyce explains. “I get a more informative picture. The patient is reassured that their GP and specialist are working together for their benefit, and the GP gains a broader understanding of neurological conditions.”

To date he has completed some 50 consultations, limiting his telehealth patients to those living truly remote from neurological services. He bulk bills all his telehealth patients, who are often low income earners, to minimise paperwork and administration.

“Apart from the consult, my only task is to write a referral for an MRI if needed,” he explains. “The GP will write prescriptions and handle the pathology — so patient care is still very localised.”

Dr Boyce said he finds the telehealth consultation particularly effective when working with cases such as headaches, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy.

The 50-case veteran of telehealth said that effective communication equipment does not need to be from the high-end commercial range.

“My technical adviser recommended webcam, headset and monitor readily available from my local computer retailer,” Dr Boyce said. “I got change out of $1,000 to set up my practice and have had no problems communicating with patients and their GPs. And, because it is common technology, it is very easy to operate or replace.”

Contact Dr Boyce:

To arrange a telehealth consultation with Dr Boyce, contact his practice via the ACRRM Telehealth Provider Directory. The directory access is free to all clinicians.