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Barwon Health Palliative Care Research awarded Western Alliance Project Grant

Wednesday, 02 December 2020

Congratulations to the Barwon Health Palliative Care Research Group, who have received a $10,500 research grant from Western Alliance to study the rapid adoption of telehealth in palliative care due to COVID-19.

In recent years the use of telehealth has been promoted across healthcare settings including palliative care. The advantages for both patients and health services are numerous including improved access to care for frail and remote patients, improved access to multi-disciplinary specialist staff and cost savings. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the use of telehealth to the fore, as public health approaches such as social distancing and isolation have meant many people have been unable to interact directly with health care professionals.

For community-based palliative care services, this has meant a sudden and dramatic change in practice away from a predominantly face-to-face model of care to one that significantly incorporates telehealth. While Australia has largely avoided the tragic scenes we have witnessed overseas, it seems likely that future healthcare provision will not be “business as usual” but rather a blended model involving both direct and indirect contact with health care professionals. As such, understanding how palliative care patients and health care professionals have experienced telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis, and how telehealth compares to more traditional face-to-­face care, will be crucial in planning community palliative care services moving forward. This planning is crucial because no one knows what the future holds including if/when a similar situation might arise again.

Barwon Health Investigators Dr Peter Eastman, Anna Dowd, Jacqui White, Matthew Ely and Jill Carter will evaluate palliative care patient and health professional satisfaction with telehealth in the context of the sudden changes caused by COVID-19 and investigate preferences around what modes of service delivery people feel work best.