The Australian government’s high-speed, fast-access broadband communications program will deliver health care services to older Australians, people living with cancer, and those needing palliative care.
The national broadband network (NBN) telehealth pilot program will more readily connect healthcare providers with patients, especially in regional, rural and outer metropolita areas. A telehealth pilot is being trialled in an area of NBN coverage – with first round of services to be operational by July 2012.
Australia’s telehealth services are supported by the $36 billion (US$38 billion) NBN roll-out, offering affordable broadband to homes, doctor surgeries, pharmacies, clinics, aged-care facilities and allied health professionals. Telehealth services remove many of the barriers, such as Australia’s “tyranny of distance,” as well as managing the time and cost involved in patients visiting healthcare providers or GPs.
These broadband-supported services, when fully operational, will transform the way healthcare is delivered nationally – while streamlining service delivery for groups in most need.
Senator Stephen Conroy, minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy, says telehealth will transform health care delivery in Australia. This trial will make a real difference to the lives of patients with high health care needs living in NBN early rollout areas, particularly those in regional, rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas”, he says.
With an aging population, the Australian government seeks to maximize the reach of health care services, while proactively managing medical conditions.
Existing Telehealth services are popular with patients and doctors, making it make easier for people to receive care and consultation through videoconferencing, as and when needed.
Six months after introducing Medicare rebates for telehealth consultations, the uptake has grown steadily – with more than 7,000 services provided by over 1,200 clinicians nationally, mostly to rural and remote areas.