Established in October 2020, the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department is a service that allows non-urgent patients to access emergency care from anywhere in Victoria, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In a new partnership, La Trobe University will work with the Digital Health CTC, Northern Health and the Victorian Department of Health to evaluate the service and better understand its role in the health system.
Dr Loren Sher, Clinical Director of the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department, said that emergency department overcrowding is a significant public health concern with far-reaching implications for healthcare systems worldwide.
“In Australia, the demand for emergency services has consistently outpaced population growth over the past two decades. The causes of this rising demand are multifaceted, including an ageing population and an increase in chronic and complex diseases.”
“The strain on emergency departments creates a range of challenges, from the diversion of resources away from critical cases to prolonged waiting times, adverse health outcomes, increased stress for staff, bed blockages, and overall patient and staff dissatisfaction.”
“The Virtual Emergency Department is a unique and innovative solution that addresses these issues. Unlike traditional telehealth models that support clinicians, this virtual service provides direct care to patients, which reduces the need for patient transfers,” says Dr Sher.
The proposed study, which will be led by La Trobe’s Professor James Boyd, will evaluate the implementation of virtual ED model and identify opportunities for future improvement.
“It will also assess the impact on traditional health service delivery processes and patient experience and determine the acceptability of the virtual ED model of care,” Professor Boyd says.
“Our research aims to help us better understand the impact of virtual ED on the whole health system, which we hope will help create a more streamlined and efficient healthcare system.”