A better night’s sleep for regional Queenslanders

A Rockhampton patient being fitted with TeleSleep equipment

A Rockhampton patient being fitted with TeleSleep equipment.

The RBWH TeleSleep pilot program has been a huge success, allowing regional Queenslanders to access vital sleep study services.

The pilot ran from November 2021 to September 2022 and provided a complete metropolitan level 2 sleep service to parts of regional Queensland where a Queensland Health service was previously non-existent, requiring patients to travel long distances for sleep care.

The sleep care was provided to patients via telehealth with the support of their local general practitioner.

The feedback from both patients and clinicians was extremely positive, carbon emissions were reduced by 33 tones as a result of less patient travel, and Queensland Health saved more than $100,000. Most importantly, patients who may have previously been reluctant to travel to receive sleep care were able to receive the care they required in their local community.

RBWH Director, Respiratory and Sleep Services Dr Darren O’Brien said he’s very proud of the fact that by bringing a TeleSleep Service to an area of need where no previous public sleep service existed, the team were able to significantly help a large number of people resolve their sleep disorder with minimal upheaval to their lives.

“I was very surprised to learn that just over 50 per cent of patients responding to our pilot sleep service survey specified that had this service not existed in their own town, they would not have travelled to Brisbane to have their sleep problem investigated,” Dr O’Brien said.

“This means that there is likely to be a high number of undiagnosed sleep disorders in communities lacking a public sleep service, which results in a greater long-term health care burden for Queensland Health.

“In addition, sleep disorders have real-world and economic impacts on the community such as motor vehicle accidents as a result of drivers falling asleep, increased absenteeism and loss of workplace productivity.”

The team are currently exploring options to make TeleSleep part of their business-as-usual services, as well as teaching other existing Queensland Health Sleep Services to deliver this model of care.

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