The Victorian government has opened a state-wide virtual triage service to ease pressures on hospital emergency departments.
The program, designed and developed by Northern Hospital, allows doctors and nurses to assess non-urgent patients remotely.
Minister for health Martin Foley said the program is part of relieving the ongoing pressures of the pandemic on Victoria’s healthcare system.
“We’re providing record investment to support initiatives like this so more Victorians get the care they need in the comfort of their own home,” said Foley.
The Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) program, when used at Northern Hospital, saw 87% of those referred to the virtual service avoid going to an emergency department.
Under the program, paramedics responding to a callout and, following an initial assessment, will refer the patient with the VVED if appropriate.
Northern Hospital’s VVED team will accept referrals from Ambulance Victoria crews across Victoria. Virtual clinical assessments, medical advice, treatment and, where required, local referrals will be provided to appropriate services for ongoing management.
“The virtual ED at Northern Health has been a great success and helped patients and staff through a very challenging global pandemic and I’m pleased to see it being rolled out across the state,” said member for Thomastown Bronwyn Halfpenny.
VVED was expanded earlier this year in February as part of a $1.4 billion package to support the Victorian health system, including $225 million focused on easing pressures faced by hospitals.
The announcement comes as Victoria eases its COVID-19 restrictions and its COVID response commander Jeroen Weimar resigns.