Friday, May 17, 2013

We Are Seeing More Brownian Motion In The Telehealth Space As The Election Nears.

There was another press release from another part of the Government that was relevant this week.
Joint media release
Mark Butler MP
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity

NBN to pilot new models of health care for 2500 patients

The Gillard Government is providing $20.3 million to nine cutting edge telehealth projects that will use the National Broadband Network to pilot new methods of health care delivery.
“These exciting initiatives will help demonstrate how important high-speed broadband is to the future of healthcare and highlight why it should be rolled out to all Australians,” Senator Conroy said.
The projects, to be implemented by some of Australia's leading healthcare and research organisations, will reach around 2500 patients in 50 NBN communities, and include:
  • The CSIRO delivering early intervention services to allow specialists in metropolitan hospitals to identify eye diseases in remote Western Australia and the Torres Strait using video-conferencing and medical imaging.
  • The Royal District Nursing Service using in-home monitoring to allow nurses to support chronically ill and elderly patients and reduce the frequency of home visits.
  • Feros Care helping seniors to stay at home longer through daily monitoring of their wellbeing; and
  • The Hunter New England Health District assisting cancer patients in rural and regional areas to assess and manage their symptoms, with the support of a care coordinator and other medical professionals through high-definition video conferencing.
“This initiative follows other Gillard Government programs that are using high-speed broadband to improve and change people's lives.
“For example, one NBN-enabled education project is allowing year 10 students in Willunga, South Australia, to take an astrophysics class with students in Canberra and Tasmania via the NBN, with a teacher based in Melbourne.
“We now live in a world where education doesn't stop at the school gate, healthcare doesn't only happen in a hospital, and aged care doesn't always mean having to go into a nursing home.
“These exciting initiatives will help demonstrate why fast, reliable, and affordable high-speed broadband delivered to all Australians is so important for our country’s future."
Mr Butler, said: “With Australia’s rapidly ageing population, we face increasing challenges in providing appropriate care services to our older citizens in an affordable way.
“This program will demonstrate new models of aged care for older Australians living in their own homes and communities, and how telehealth can help meet these challenges.”
An overview of the nine successful grants is attached.
For more information, visit: www.health.gov.au
For further information on the NBN, visit: www.nbn.gov.au
The release is found here:
There is coverage here:

Australian govt plugs AU$20.3m into telehealth

Summary: Around 2,500 patients in 50 National Broadband Network areas will be part of new telehealth projects funded with AU$20.3 million from the federal government.
By Josh Taylor | May 8, 2013 -- 06:03 GMT (16:03 AEST)
The Australian government is looking to show off the benefits that the National Broadband Network (NBN) will bring to the area of telehealth with AU$20.3 million in funding for nine projects across the country.
The nine projects will cover 2,500 patients in 50 locations across Australia where the NBN has already been rolled out.
"These exciting initiatives will help demonstrate how important high-speed broadband is to the future of healthcare, and highlight why it should be rolled out to all Australians," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement.
More here:
and more coverage here:

Fifty communities, nine new pilot projects, $20 million for NBN telehealth

Over $20 million has been earmarked for nine telehealth pilot projects to be delivered via the NBN, Senator Stephen Conroy announced today in a joint statement with the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler.
Projects funded under the NBN-Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program will reach an estimated 2500 patients in 50 NBN-connected communities and will be delivered through partner organisations in the healthcare and research sectors.
Grants vary between $2.993 million, for virtual nursing services delivered by the Royal District Nursing Service to 200 patients in Vic, Tas and NSW, to a $1.3 million grant to deliver tele-eye care services to 900 older and indigenous Australians in WA and QLD.  
More here:
The news was followed by some sensible commentary here:

Telehealth and the NBN myth

David Glance

Opinion: New funding for old innovation.

Of all of the many promises the NBN is supposed to fulfill, its role in the delivery of electronic health is probably the most contentious.
Society has a very real problem of escalating health costs for services struggling to meet the increasing burden of ageing, chronic disease and obesity. Alongside this is the promise of improved efficiencies brought about by computerisation and faster broadband networks.
This makes it easy, as CSIRO has just done to proclaim that $4 million worth of Federal Government grants is going to go some way to solving the burden of healthcare by funding two trials of telehealth.
Like many health issues however, it is not that simple.
What is never mentioned in the press releases are the many studies that have shown no or equivocal effects brought about by the use of eHealth. Most recently, a report in the British Medical Journal found that when looking at 1500 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart failure over a 12 month period, telehealth and telecare produced “no net benefit” when compared with regular modes of care. And actually, this is not surprising.
More here:
The bottom line here is that a decent large and expensive trial of all this has not shown much value so maybe what is actually required are some rigorous studies at some decent scale actually monitoring both cost improvement and clinical outcomes. Until this is done in Australian conditions we really won’t know if we are wasting money or not.
Note just talking telehealth is not enough - we need to compare and evaluate all the submodalities properly.
Evidence based policy please!
David.

No comments: