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Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia, and Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander Australians with diabetes are 38 times more likely to undergo a major leg amputation compared to non-Indigenous Australians with diabetes. They are also 27 times more likely to undergo a minor amputation. Nearly all (98%) of amputations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are related to diabetes.

Dr Olufemi Oshin, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Clinical Director, Clinical Operations Royal Perth Bentley Hospital Group says, “The foot and leg ulcers that can develop with diabetes are hard to treat without regular assessments and tracking the patient’s care. Silhouette enables us to much more accurately track wound healing progress and deliver community based care; something that is extremely important to the Aboriginal population. With Silhouette we are aiming to reduce the serious implications of diabetes, such as amputations, and really improve the quality of life for people with diabetes across Western Australia.”

A shared vision of collaborative, high quality foot ulcer and wound care has paved the way for state-wide Silhouette use by enabling healthcare organisations throughout WA to use the SilhouetteCentral database hosted at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. The first 5 providers to connect to the Silhouette system are Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Osborne Park Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services, and Boab Health Services in Broome. Other sites are expected to join this exciting initiative in the coming months. Other healthcare organisations involved in the project include Diabetes WA, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Ltd member services – Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS), Derby Aboriginal Health Service (DAHS), Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service (OVAHS), and Yura Yungi Medical Service (YYMS) and the communities of Balgo, Bidyadanga and Beagle Bay.

Diabetes WA are major drivers of the Silhouette project and have funded a number of Silhouette point of care devices for the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services. Their Telehealth Service provides adults living with diabetes in remote communities with critical information, advice and support, via video conferencing technology, and plays a vital role in keeping people in their communities and minimising family disruption.

Sophie McGough, Senior Manager – Strategy and Business Development, Diabetes WA says, “Diabetes WA saw this collaboration as a unique opportunity to use money from our fundraising efforts, to build the capacity of the Aboriginal Health Workers in the Kimberley to play a central role in foot ulcer management.”

With the portable Silhouette point of care devices, remote healthcare providers will be able to accurately image, measure and record wound/skin healing data during assessments, and specialist care and advice can be obtained quickly via the internet no matter where they are located.

“Diabetes WA will be supporting the service by enabling Aboriginal Health Workers and their clients to access the drop-in diabetes telehealth service to provide opportunistic diabetes education and support for this high risk group. We also plan to link this initiative with Aboriginal Health Workers delivering our diabetes self-management education and support program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” says McGough.

Dr Lorraine Anderson – Medical Director, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services says, “Silhouette will help reduce the need for amputations within WA, in particular Aboriginal Communities. Silhouette will reduce the need for people to be away from home and therefore remove the costs of transport to and from hospital visits and will also reduce the cost of the treatment/s by enabling specialists to keep a much closer eye on healing progress and the treatments required at each stage of the process.”