The friendly face greeting our Telehealth patients

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Specialist Clinics Administrator, Gerard Anthony’s role was at the front-desk.

He now greets patients in the virtual Telehealth front-desk.

“The way it works is when a patient calls through to Telehealth, I’ll greet them in the virtual front-desk. I’ll then find out where they need to go and place them in the virtual waiting room for the correct clinic.”

Gerard said that in May, Austin Health started off doing an average of 27 telehealth calls a day, we’re now averaging 200-250 calls daily.

“At the beginning our patients weren’t fully confident with using the system.

“A big part of my role is to support patients with using the system and help them feel more comfortable,” he said.

Gerard explains that younger people have adapted well to using the technology, but it can be quite challenging for older people.

“I sometimes call them through the phone and talk them through how to use the system, if they make a mistake, it’s not an issue. I try to give them that feeling that everything is ok, and to help alleviate any stress they have.

“I want to make them feel at ease and feel happy when they come in for their virtual appointment.

"Using telehealth, we can have not only the doctor and the patient on the call but we can have family members join in as well, which is comforting for the patient especially the patients in aged care facilities,” he said.

Patients who are unable to use Telehealth are still able to do phone consultations and, in some instances, face-to-face appointments.

Gerard said that despite the change to Telehealth being unexpected, the transition to the new technology has been a good thing.

“I’m now getting repeat patients, who are more confident and comfortable using the system. The more times they use the system, the easier it gets. It’s a really rewarding experience,” he said.

Gerard’s positive attitude and drive to help others has made a big difference for patients and doctors and has been noticed by others.

“He goes beyond this role, truly making patients feel welcomed, supported and valued. Several of my doctors and one of my nurses have independently highlighted his great work and positive attitude,” said Director of Gastroenterology, Dr Josephine Grace.