The challenges of telehealth 

4 minute read

Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? How about now? 

Telehealth is a game-changing technology, a great equaliser that has the potential to reduce healthcare inequity and facilitate chronic care.  

It has the reality, however, of being like this:  

Doctor: Hello, can you hear me?  

Patient: Hello … hello?? 

Doctor: Hello Trevor, can you hear me? 

Patient: Who? Who’s this?  

Doctor: It’s the doctor. 

Patient: Who? Oh shit, I can’t hear a friggin’ thing … 

Doctor: Hang on, I’ll call back. 

Thirty seconds later 

Doctor: Hello Trevor, can you hear me now?  

Patient: Yes, I can doctor, was that you phoning just earlier? 

Doctor: Yes it was.  

Patient: How are you? Are you keeping well?  

Doctor: Yeah I’m OK, thanks Trevor, how are you? 

Patient: Hang on a sec, I’ll just switch the telly off, Margaret loves it on loud. 

Doctor: OK. 

Patient: There, that’s better … oh hang on a sec she’s only gone and let the dog in, she’s a real yapper … the dog I mean … hang on, I need to let her out.  

Doctor: Ok……  

Mumbling and yapping; phone goes dead  

Doctor: Hello?  

Patient: Hello?!   

Doctor: Hi Trevor. Are you all right to talk now?   

Patient: Yeah, much better, sorry about that.  

Doctor: What’s happening, Trevor?  

Patient: Did you get the letter from the hospital?  

Doctor: What letter?  

Patient: Oh they said they’d send it to you as soon as I got out.  

Doctor: I didn’t know you were even in, Trevor! 

Patient: I was there for a few weeks, I thought you knew?  

Doctor: No, nobody told me. What’s the story? 

Patient: Well, something to do with my lungs I think, and something about … a DVD or something, I don’t know they didn’t really tell me much when I was in there. Bloody busy place. I was hoping you’d be able to fill me in once I got out. They put me on a heap of tablets though, I’m like a walking chemist’s now!   

Doctor: Which tablets did they put you on, Trevor?  

Patient: I don’t know, bloody great things they are … like horse tablets. 

Doctor: Do you remember what they’re called?  

Patient: Nah, I’ve never been great with names, takes me all my time to remember my own sometimes!  

Doctor: Does your wife know the names of your new tablets?  

Patient: Hang on, I’ll ask her … MARGARET … MARGARET … MY TABLETS … YEAH … NO … I DUNNO … THE DOC WANTS THE NAMES OF ’EM … hang on doc, she’s coming. 

Doctor: … 

Patient: Oh no, she’s let the bloody dog in again. 

Muffled swearing and yapping 

Doctor: Are you there? 

Phone goes dead  

Doctor: Hello?  

Patient: Sorry about that, doc, I lost you then, not sure what happened. 

Doctor: Have you got your tablets?  

Patient: Yeah, hang on, the labels are a bit small, I can’t bloody read them … MARGARET WHERE ARE MY READERS … oh shit. 

Doctor: Take your time, Trevor. 

Patient: OK, what’s this one … Azit … azito …. azito something. 

Doctor: Azithromycin?  

Patient: Not sure … ermm … what about this one … oh shit, I’ve just dropped the bloody lot. 

Doctor: Why don’t you send me a picture of them, Trevor, and then I’ll know what you’ve been put on.  

Patient: Good idea doc, hang on a sec. 

Doctor: No, wait! 

Phone goes dead  

Doctor: Hello??  

Patient: Sorry doc, this bloody phone 

Doctor: Why don’t we end the conversation now Trevor and then you’ll have time to take a picture of your medication and once you’ve done that you can send the picture through to my phone and that way I can get on and see my next patient and then give you a call back when I know more. And hopefully by then I’ll have your discharge letter too.  

Patient: Sure, sorry about that doc, I know you’re a busy man. 

Doctor: OK, speak to you soon  

Patient: Bye. 

Forty-five minutes later  

Here we go doc, all my new meds. 

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