Saying that health care delivery has been altered in the wake of COVID would be an obvious understatement. Australia’s COVID-19 response saw a number digital tools become formalised in allied health practice, telehealth chief among them. Concurrently, patients experienced a substantial growth in surgical waiting times during the pandemic, with a 50% increase in patients in Australia waiting for more than 365 days for surgery. As a consequence, there is now speculation that allied health professionals could use their telehealth infrastructure to ease the burden on elective surgery waiting lists.
This would firstly require incorporating allied health professionals into surgical triaging systems, where they could help determine whether patients would be referred for surgery or some other alternative, and whether receiving other services while on the waiting list could improve their symptoms and thus surgical outcomes. But when funding is not available to provide these services, telehealth services can come into play.
In this edition, Dr Paul Butterworth looks at how allied health professions can use telehealth triage to manage elective surgery waiting lists.
Continuing the small but critical workforce theme, and jumping firmly back to the middle of the alphabet, our A-Z of Allied Health this week explores the orthotic/prosthetic profession. O&Ps can enhance the independence of people with functional limitations or physical impairments, providing the mobility to participate in many aspects of social and professional life that would otherwise be inaccessible. We take a closer look at the orthotist and prosthetist profession—what they do, where they work, their educational and professional frameworks, and their role in healthcare.