Telemedicine in the Northern Territory: an assessment of patient perceptions in the preoperative anaesthetic clinic

Aust J Rural Health. 2015 Jun;23(3):136-41. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12140. Epub 2015 Jan 23.


Objective: We investigated patient perceptions of a virtual preoperative anaesthesia evaluation clinic linking Royal Darwin Hospital to Katherine Hospital.

Design: Descriptive study, cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Regional and rural areas of Northern Territory, Australia.

Participants: Sample includes 27 respondents, five Indigenous, 18 non-Indigenous and four unknown.

Interventions: Introduction of a preoperative anaesthesia evaluation clinic.

Main outcome measures: We designed a 10-item, 5-point Likert scale questionnaire assessing patient perceptions in four domains: (i) technical quality; (ii) perceived efficacy; (iii) affective patient experience; and (iv) patient preference. Qualitative responses are also reported.

Results: Twenty-seven out of 35 patients (77%) completed the questionnaire. Ninety-eight per cent were in positive agreement on technical quality with a mean score of 1.35 (SD: 0.53); Ninety-five per cent on perceived efficacy, 1.35 (SD: 0.65); Eighty-four per cent in negative agreement on affective patient experience (negative perception item), 4.19 (SD: 1.07); Eighty-one per cent in negative agreement on patient preference (negative perception item), 4.23 (SD: 1.14). There were no significant differences in the answers between Indigenous (five patients) and non-Indigenous patients (18 patients).

Conclusion: Our study confirms the acceptability of telemedicine in the remote assessment of preoperative patients in the Northern Territory, with positive perceptions in all four domains.

Keywords: Indigenous health; health service evaluation; preoperative assessment; telemedicine evaluation; video conference.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Anesthetics*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services, Indigenous
  • Humans
  • Northern Territory
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Preoperative Period*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telemedicine*


  • Anesthetics