Geriatric ward rounds by video conference: a solution for rural hospitals

Med J Aust. 2009 Dec;191(11-12):605-8. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb03345.x.


Objective: To evaluate the acceptance and cost of a ward-based geriatric consultation service delivered via a mobile videoconferencing system.

Design and setting: Prospective observational study conducted in the geriatric unit of Toowoomba Base Hospital, Queensland, comparing a specialist consultation service delivered by videoconference (VC) with a "traditional" in-person service. The VC system was established in January 2007 and evaluated over an 18-month period. Patient satisfaction with the service was assessed by questionnaire during a 1-week period in September 2008.

Main outcome measures: Hospital acceptance of the service; patient satisfaction with the service; comparative cost of providing in-person and VC-mediated consultations.

Results: Uptake of the service increased progressively throughout the study period. Patient acceptance levels were high. The cost of video consultations for a 12-patient ward round and case conference was less than the cost of in-person consultations if the total road distance travelled by the specialist (Brisbane to Toowoomba and back) was 125 km or longer.

Conclusion: Consultations via VC are an acceptable alternative to in-person consultations, and are less expensive than in-person consultations for even modest distances travelled by the clinician.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care / economics
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged / economics*
  • Hospitals, Rural*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Queensland
  • Remote Consultation / economics*
  • Teaching Rounds / economics*
  • Videoconferencing / economics