Our experience in using telehealth for paediatric plastic surgery in Western Australia

ANZ J Surg. 2017 Apr;87(4):277-281. doi: 10.1111/ans.13925. Epub 2017 Feb 20.


Background: Western Australia accounts for one-third of Australia's total land mass. Princess Margaret Hospital is the only dedicated plastic surgery tertiary referral centre providing services to over 500 000 children across the state. The aim of this study is to share our experience using telehealth for service provision and delivery of care in a geographically challenging setting.

Methods: A retrospective review was conducted, and data were extracted from patients' notes. The time period was from January 2014 to 31 December 2015 and included all patients registered for plastic surgery telehealth service.

Results: There were a total of 194 rural patients (66 males and 128 females), 26 of whom were elective cases. A total of 358 telehealth follow-up consultations were conducted for the 194 patients during the study period. A total of 10 patients were managed via telehealth alone without a clinical review in Perth; 24 patients had their first clinical review in Perth and further follow-up via telehealth, and 99 patients were post-operative cases. Case load ranged from skin lacerations to complex soft tissue and bony injuries as well as elective hand and craniofacial post-operative follow-up cases. Telehealth service was utilized mainly for post-operative follow-up.

Conclusion: It is our experience that telehealth provides access to Specialist Plastic Surgery service across the state. We utilize telehealth for a wide scope of functions. Patients in rural areas are managed in their home environments, reducing financial and psychosocial burden with the option of transfer to Princess Margaret Hospital should an intervention be required.

Keywords: plastic surgery; telehealth.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tertiary Care Centers / statistics & numerical data