Telehealth technology a winner for all

Last year, thanks to funding from the Victorian Stroke Clinical Network, MICCN’s Dr Rene Stolwyk set out to develop and evaluate a new teleneuropsychology rehabilitation service for Victorian rural hospitals. His intention was to reform assessment and treatment services for those who had stroke-related cognitive, behavioural and mood impairments.

The pilot trial has shown promising outcomes, so much so that the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has recently awarded scale-up funding for the project to be rolled out to three additional rural hospitals, with teleneuropsychology services to be delivered from a new clinical hub based at the Monash Psychology Centre.

Adding to the trial’s success is the recent validation of telehealth as an effective method to deliver neuropsychological assessment. MICCN doctoral student Ms Jodie Chapman sought to examine whether results from neuropsychological assessment conducted via videoconferencing were equivalent to traditional face-to-face assessment delivery. During the study, neuropsychological tests were undertaken via videoconference, as well as using the standard face-to-face method. It was found that neuropsychological assessment via videoconferencing is largely equivalent to face-to-face methods.

“Telehealth holds great potential – for clinical neuropsychologists to know that they are implementing proven assessment and treatment methods, and for those who have experienced a stroke, knowing that they are receiving equally effective services without having to travel,” Ms Chapman said. “Currently only 39 per cent of stroke survivors have access to psychological services in metropolitan hospitals, and only four per cent in regional areas. This new way to assess and treat patients with stroke will provide more people with greater access to effective treatment, giving them a better chance of recovery. I am delighted to have been able to validate the use of teleneuropsychology in stroke and hope that its expansion into more hospitals delivers the desired outcomes.”

In recognition of her work, Ms Chapman was awarded Best Datablitz Presentation at the 15th Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Special Interest Group of the WFNR Conference in Prague for her presentation, “Comparing face-to-face and videoconference delivery of neuropsychological assessment following stroke”.

MICCN congratulates Jodie on her achievement and wishes the team all the best with their exciting endeavours in telehealth.

For more information on MICCN’s work in telehealth, please contact Dr Rene Stolwyk on t: 03 9902 0099, e: Rene.Stolwyk@monash.edu.

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