Thursday, November 27, 2014

It Seems There Is Opportunity For Remote Telehealth To Make A Bigger Positive Difference.

This appeared last week:

Doctors call on government to expand Medicare for Telehealth

Delegates gather for annual telehealth conference
Brian Karlovsky (ARN) on 17 November, 2014 09:48
The Australasian Telehealth Society has called on the Government to expand medicare for telehealth ahead of its annual meeting.
Delegates are gathering in Adelaide today for SFT-14, the "Successes and Failures in Telehealth" conference, and the fifth Annual Meeting of the Australasian Telehealth Society, which will be opened by the South Australian Health Minister, Jack Snelling.
Telehealth is the delivery of health care services at a distance, using information and communication technology.
This conference will showcase the achievements of doctors, nurses, psychologists and all healthcare providers in using telehealth to bringing healthcare to rural and remote areas and into people’s homes, to achieve better access to healthcare and improved health outcomes.
In 2011, the Australian Government put video consultations by specialists to rural Australia on Medicare.
This means that people in the bush can see a specialist by simply going to their local general practice, rather than having to travel to the city.
This initiative has supported around 230,000 telehealth consultations. More than twice this number was predicted, so the funding set aside has been underspent, and this gives capacity to extend telehealth to a broader range of health services.
"It is still only available in some areas and needs to be put into practice much more widely to make health outcomes more equal," according to the Society.
"More than 30 per cent of Australians live in rural and remote areas, but less than 1 per cent of medical specialist consultations are by telehealth.
"Improvements in broadband communication need to be harnessed to bring more health services to these areas."
In far west NSW, remote Western Australia and in the Northern Territory, life expectancy is more than 10 years below average, and suicide rates are more than double.
The Society has called for a list of reforms to be implemented.
Lots more here:
The requests from the Society all seem sensible to me and could make a real difference at  a very reasonable cost.
Interesting the usage to date has been lower than predicted. I wonder why that was?

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