You would think that Dr Ruth Large was well-accustomed to city life, having been born in Cape Town and raised in Auckland. Yet as a child, her dream was to be a farmer’s wife living in the countryside.
While her parents encouraged her towards more academic pursuits and tertiary study, Large’s love for rural New Zealand never left her.
Now, she works with New Zealand’s largest rural district health board delivering technology-based health services, and is widely recognised as a local authority on telehealth.
Attendees at the College’s Digital Summit on 23 November will get to hear Large’s perspectives on the future of telehealth in New Zealand’s primary care system.
In 2015 she was appointed Clinical Director of Virtual Health Care of the Waikato DHB – the first role of its kind to be created in New Zealand.
In this role, Large helps to strengthen the DHB’s strategic commitment to virtual health, and uses innovation to provide the care she believes patients deserve.
In an interview with Stuff.co.nz, Large talked about her commitment to patient-centred care and addressing the inequities of rural practice.
"To me, the patient and the community is in the middle,” she says.
“Look at all these communities who are remote, and who have difficulty accessing hospital services.”
"Why would you [come into the hospital] if you don't need to? Some people need to find time off work, or gas money, or a ride to the hospital for an outpatient appointment."
As the current Chair of the National Telehealth Forum, Large leads a group of clinicians, consumers, policy makers and funding managers, ICT experts and industry representatives.
The Forum advises on requirements and priorities for telehealth in rural and provincial hospitals, integrated care, home monitoring and clinical networks.
It helps develop guidelines and standards, acts as a sounding board and supports telehealth initiatives around the country.
Large graduated from the University of Auckland’s School of Medicine in 1999, and spent time working in the Australian outback before returning to New Zealand to train in General Practice and Emergency Medicine.
Staying true to her childhood dream, Large now lives on a lifestyle block in North Waikato with her farmer husband and three children.
Remember to register for the College Digital Summit. This one-day interactive event will be held in Wellington on 23 November, and features a range of industry experts and innovators.
Register for the College Digital Summit now.
Visit the New Zealand Telehealth Forum and Resource Centre