Connecting through telehealth

Miss Jenny O’Donnell1, Miss Karen Cole1
1John Hunter Hospital, New Lambton Heights, Australia

Connecting via smart phones/ tablets and computers using Facetime or Skype has become the norm in the 21st century but does it have a role in Stomal Therapy? This is the question we have asked ourselves at John Hunter Hospital. John Hunter Hospital (JHH) is the major retrieval hospital in Hunter New England Local Health District. The district is a mix of a major metropolitan centre (JHH), several large regional centres and many small rural centres and remote communities within its borders. The district covers an area of 131,785 square kilometres- the size of England. The Stomal Therapy role is a 1.2 jobshare position and due to the workload we only see patients with stomas and fistula. Last year our surgeons created approximately 165 new stomas. Earlier this year, due to increase pressure for rooms in Surgical Outpatients our clinic hours were cut to 3 mornings a week. The decreased clinic hours and increasing patient numbers forced us to question “How can we improve the connection between the ostomy patient and STN?” Keeping in line with the HNELHD Strategic plan to improve equity of access and service delivery, telehealth was thought to be an obvious option. This presentation is about our journey using Telehealth, a secure transmission by videoconference over the internet. Included in this presentation are mindsets that had to change, what worked and what didn’t work, what questions to ask, patient feedback and future plans.


Jenny O’Donnell has been relieving in Stomal Therapy since completing Stomal Therapy Certificate in 1985 and has been in her present CNC position for over 15 years. She was a member of the first AASTN Team of the inaugural Enterostomal Therapy Nurses Education Program (ETNEP) in Kenya. Jenny has presented at various conferences and study days.

Karen Cole is a registered nurse with 29 years’ experience. She completed her Stomal therapy certificate in 2000. Karen has been relieving in the jobshare position of Stomal Therapist for the past 18 years and is a committee member of NSW branch AASTN.