One of WA’s leading fertility providers is now able to permanently change the way it can see patients — by making appointments more accessible through virtual healthcare.
It comes after the Federal Government this week announced the telehealth service is here to stay, where people can speak to their doctor or specialist by phone or video call.
Genea patients across the country will be able to access remote consultations with doctors and nurses remotely to discuss infertility, their medical history and starting IVF or egg freezing treatment.
Ultrasounds, blood tests, collection of eggs and sperm, and embryo transfers will still need to be done in a clinic.
Perth’s Cassie Silver — who is 35 weeks pregnant — said telehealth made her fertility journey “so much smoother”.
“To be able to have quick check-in appointment over the phone instead of travelling in-and-out of the clinic makes patients feel safer and makes the whole journey much easier,” she said.
“For many patients you already have a lot to juggle, so reducing the number of face-face appointments makes things so much more efficient.”
Telehealth will receive a $106 million cash injection from the Government — and made a permanent part of the nation’s health system — after being brought in during the pandemic to ensure healthcare could occur.
Camera IconHEA Fertility magazine. Dr Michael Allen, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Genea Hollywood Fertility. Credit: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian
Genea Hollywood Fertility specialist Dr Mike Allen told The West Australian thousands of patients had benefited from telehealth and would continue to benefit from the service.
“The telehealth service has proven to be an effective way in order to deliver fertility care to patients particularly in settings where distances from clinics are substantial,” Dr Allen said.
“(It) has provided a solution to thousands of couples who otherwise would have had to wait until clinics were able to reopen.”
“Whilst not able to completely replace a face-to-face consultation, it allowed the essential information in regards to medical history and review of previously completed investigations to be collected and subsequent investigations and planning of management to be organised prior to treatment.”
Dr Allen said the Perth clinic was able to shift to a “complete telehealth model”, despite not experiencing extended lockdowns as seen in other States and Territories, where regular appointments with doctors and nurses could happen before starting treatment.
“With the onset of the COVID pandemic and the initial lockdowns and clinic closures the anxiety about access to fertility services was elevated for our patients and the sense of lost time was magnified more than ever,” he said.
“For couples who had no challenges in conceiving, lockdowns were in fact responsible for mini booms in the numbers of babies born as the instance of both partners being at home increased the possibility of pregnancy and conception.”
Genea data shows a 40 per cent increase in egg freezing cycles in 2020-21, with women aged 35-39 being the most common age group.