Women’s Health Queensland is an organisation which provides information, education, referrals and support services to Queensland women via the phone and email. The women we speak to in rural, regional and remote areas give voice to the challenges of accessing health care. Last month alone, 58% of all calls received related to concerns and/or challenges around maternal health. Often, we hear of stories of women travelling many hours to access maternity care and feeling stressed because appointments are not always with the same health care provider. When someone is going through a pregnancy and are not able to access the same practitioner in an on-going way, worries can grow quickly. Women have described feeling they have ‘missed asking something important’ or are hard on themselves for not remembering all the questions they have been trying to write down!
This issue is not unnoticed; other services and organisations are advocating for change. Looking to RANZCOG’s Maternity Services in Remote and Rural Communities in Australia Statement there is a strong call for collaborative care in maternal health provision as well as information about locally available types of maternity and anesthetic care.
This sentiment was echoed in The Rural Maternity Taskforce Report 2019, with the Report’s fourth recommendation calling on hospitals to “[develop] an easy-to-understand guide for women, which summarises their local maternity model options”. For rural, regional and remote women we know the term local can still mean a day’s drive or a plane trip. This begs the question: how much technology will play a part in the future of health care in communities which fall outside of metropolitan areas?
According to the white paper produced by the University of New South Wales and Telstra, the average Australian household has nine connected technological devices. With so many people having access to smartphones, we have already seen a shift in the way health care is provided and a strong uptake of video calling, Telehealth and online Apps. People now have more opportunity through technology to source the services and information they need, when they need it. Better infrastructure overall has meant accesses through technology has been gained in rural and regional areas which were previously isolated. In saying this however the use of technology in the health field is still relatively new, hence there are still questions to be asked. Does an increase in connectivity mean that people living in regional and remote areas will have the opportunity to build on-going relationships with health practitioners and services which they connect to through technology?
A friendly familiar voice can make all the difference – our clients express this to us every day.
Women’s Health Queensland runs a dedicated mid-wife phone line whereby women have the opportunity to connect regularly with the same mid-wife through their pregnancy and postnatally. We acknowledge that some pregnancies may end in miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death and we extend our support to those women and mothers.
This free service is available to all Queensland women Monday to Friday 9am- 5pm. To find out more simply call 1800 017 676 or check out the website https://womhealth.org.au/services/midwife-check-in