Telemedicine trial enhances site medical support

Esso Australia's Medicine and Occupational Health (MOH) team are utilising the latest technology to provide telemedicine support to sites as part of a new trial program.

The telehealth program, run with The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Centre for Online Health, has been trialled at Longford Plants over the past few months and is expected to be rolled out to other sites such as offshore platforms over the next six months.

MOH Manager Dr. Marcus Hirschfield said that the telemedicine trial, part of a global ExxonMobil pilot project, has been successful in its objective to better meet patient and business needs.

“During the trial, the telemedicine technology has enabled a physician to support nurses in treatment of minor injuries and illnesses at Longford Plants in a secure and confidential way.

“We’ve had a great deal of positive feedback from participants. Our employees would have previously consulted us via the phone and sent in pictures, and any video use was minimal and ad-hoc. Now, we have dedicated telemedicine equipment and spaces, and staff feel like they’re having a face-to-face consultation.

“Our trial evaluation has shown that telemedicine gives us the opportunity to build a stronger rapport with patients, providing greater quality of service to the business overall,” he said.

Image Photo  Dr. Nathan Pastor and Dr. Marcus Hirschfield.
Photo — Dr. Nathan Pastor and Dr. Marcus Hirschfield.

Occupational Physician Dr. Nathan Pastor said that the new telemedicine system runs through a Skype-based system, is not recorded and is now established and ready for wider use.

“Phase two will involve integrating one of our staffed offshore platforms in Bass Strait into the telehealth services. At this location, offshore crew will be supported by Melbourne-based ExxonMobil medical and/or Longford-based nursing staff.

“This technology has the potential to extend our current hours of cover by supplying physician support to First Aiders and lowering risk through reducing potentially unnecessary medical evacuations from offshore platforms,” he said.

Dr. Hirschfield said the success of the trial represented a real team effort.

“The Production, EMIT and SSHE teams have all had a big impact on progressing this project through to fruition. We will continue to regularly assess the use of the telehealth service, as well as the quality, reliability and organisational impact of telemedicine, as we progress the program.

“I congratulate all involved and I see much potential for further development and use of this technology to improve health outcomes for our workforce,” he finished.

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