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Smart city: Virtual health care is here

West Moreton Health Executive Director Community and Rural Services Melinda Parcell at the MeCare hub, where team members communicate with patients via videoconference.

Lynette Johnston is legally blind and has a host of health issues including a lung condition, osteoarthritis, asthma and diabetes.

Despite all this she is not in hospital.

Why?

Because West Moreton Health has come up with a way to connect sick people with doctors without leaving the comfort of their own home.

MeCare (Mobile Enabled Care) uses the latest technology to not only connect with Mrs Johnston’s health professionals, but also to manage technology provided by program partner Philips.

Mrs Johnston can check her weight, blood pressure, blood sugar level and breathing capacity each day.

Once uploaded to her tablet the information is automatically relayed to the MeCare team.

“I haven’t been to hospital since February last year. Before MeCare I would have been there every month or two weeks. I’d be at home for a short amount of time and at the hospital for a long time,” Mrs Johnston said.

“It means that I know someone is looking out for me. I’ve now got a health action plan so if something does go wrong, I know how to respond.”

As well as having regular virtual contact with a nurse, Mrs Johnston also has access to a wider MeCare support team including a doctor, psychologist, social worker and pharmacist.

“It’s nice to know they are there. If I’m not sure about what I need to do with my tablets they send a pharmacist out to talk to me, and at other times I might speak to the doctor over the phone,” she said.

Mrs Johnston has also benefited greatly from time talking to a psychologist who helped her deal with some of the self-doubt and anxiety that plagued her.

She said she was now leaving the house more frequently, re-gaining a sense of independence.

“They gave me the courage that I didn’t seem to get from anyone else,” Mrs Johnson said.

“I never used to go out. Now I do go out and I know I have MeCare as a backup.”

Ipswich City Council Economic Development manager Paul Massingham said MeCare aligned with council’s Smart City program.

“The initiative examines the role of technology to support our vision in being a truly connected community,” he said.

“The MeCare program aligns with this aspiration, providing a faster response and intervention on community health issues for the residents of Ipswich to enhance citizen engagement and satisfaction.

“In our notion to become Australia’s most liveable and prosperous Smart City we are always actively looking to forge innovative partnerships which will advance our vision for a sustainable city of the future.”

More than 130 people are now using in-home technology to track their daily health targets.

MeCare was one of the technologies featured at the Australian Telehealth Conference in Sydney last month, which attracted leaders from around the country in digital health.

West Moreton Executive Director Community and Rural Services Melinda Parcell and Philips Care Transformation Manager Helen Callum shared early results of the program with conference attendees.

“This program is the latest and greatest in virtual health innovations,” Ms Parcell said.

For more information on MeCare go here. For Smart City go here.

Ipswich First

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