Telehealth transforms weight-loss care in Australia’s rural & remote communities

  • WHY Clinic Brendale (photo courtesy of Catherine Smith)

WHY Clinic Brendale [Image: Catherine Smith]

In rural and remote areas of Australia, telehealth weight loss services are changing the lives of thousands of Australians.  With traditional health services becoming harder to access in many of our countries’ less populated areas, telehealth is providing an avenue for safe, accessible health care, with an emphasis of continuity of care for patients.

For Katie, a busy mum of one who lives over 700km from the nearest specialized weight loss service, telehealth has been a life changer.  Katie reached out to the Practitioners from the WHY clinic in January 2022 for help and support in her weight loss journey. “I weighed 120kg’s at my heaviest and was a candidate for a lot of health complications as a result.  I couldn’t keep up physically with my little girl.”  Two years down the track, Katie weighs 73kg’s and is enjoying life. “I can physically and mentally do life now, I make better health choices, my body doesn’t hurt anymore and I’m enjoying spending lots of time with my daughter.  The opportunity to access WHY clinic telehealth services has affected my life in so many positive ways, I will be forever grateful for this”.

Another rural and remote telehealth convert is Leigh, who had been trying unsuccessfully to access face to face weight loss services for 2 years. “My weight increased after I was put on medication after being diagnosed with a heart condition and enlarged liver, I didn’t feel good about myself and was starting to lose hope that I would get help”.  Leigh had heard about telehealth services and contacted WHY after being referred by a family member. “I have been able to make appointments with the same practitioner every time, the whole process is so easy.  I don’t like to go out very often, so telehealth suits me and my lifestyle.  I’m only at the beginning of my journey, but I’m feeling 100 percent better already”.

One clinic making inroads in telehealth for rural and remote communities is the WHY clinic, based in Brendale Qld. Catherine Smith, a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Bariatrics founded the WHY clinic in November 2016.  Up until 2020, WHY clinic was solely a face-to-face clinic.  However, with the onset of the first lock down as a result of COVID 19 that year, Catherine made the call to branch out and deliver telehealth consults. WHY has subsequently grown from providing 600 appointments per year in 2020 to nearly 8000 consults in 2023.  There are currently 5 Nurse Practitioners working with Catherine to provide services for clients in every corner of Australia.  Over 90% of consultations through WHY are now telehealth due to client choice. Clients can make appointments through an online booking process or directly with the clinic, and are allocated the same practitioner for every appointment, this maintains a high level of continuity of care and promotes excellent patient/practitioner relationship.  The Nurse Practitioners at the WHY clinic focus on patient centered care which they believe is the key to positive outcomes for clients and current upward trends in clinic growth.

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