Expansion of telehealth in remote northern Australia and the potential for international collaborations

Expansion of telehealth in remote northern Australia and the potential for international collaborations Conference Paper

14th National Rural Health Conference: A World of Rural Health

  • Author(s): Murtagh, D, St Clair, M, Marchant, N
  • Secondary Author(s): Coleman, Leanne
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: National Rural Health Alliance

Abstract: The NT leads the country in the use of standards-based secure messaging for clinical information (eg specialist referrals, hospital discharge and pathology reports), shared health patient records and other internet connected diagnostic devices such as the iStat machine (blood analysis) and internet connected Electrocardiography (ECG). Benefits of telehealth have been demonstrated both internationally and through local assessments through reduced costs associated with patient travel, minimised time spent away from community and providing improved patient satisfaction eg use of remote diagnostic systems for identification of cardiac issues can improve patient care and save lives. For example, the Chinese government is looking to telehealth as a solution to service delivery issues. Uptake of telehealth in the NT has been limited, for a variety of reasons including inadequate broadband access. Through collaboration between stakeholders, staged implementation has been developed at a number of test sites. Program partners (AMSAANT, NT DoE, Northern Institute, TelstraHealth) are keen to negotiate an incentivised remuneration system to assist increased uptake of telehealth in NA requiring engagement with hospitals and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). Additionally, initial discussions with colleagues from CDU working in remote China and Indonesia indicate there may be opportunities for collaborative work on extending telehealth services to remote areas in China and Indonesia. NA context: Currently NT DoH is working to expand the number of acute, allied health and specialist services that provide telehealth solutions to remote patients. NT ACCHOs are developing change management strategies for telehealth usage that recognise existing work practices. They are also expanding the use of video conferencing within their organisations to support management, training, internal and external clinical support. Multiple organisations who currently interact to provide remote communities with primary health services and individuals who require access to specialist and acute/emergency clinical interventions will also be included in the digital solutions expansion. The program will assist remote ACCHOs to establish telehealth and aid them in evaluating the cost/benefits of reliable internet and telehealth services as well as expanding digital inclusion. It will also promote telehealth enabled health outcomes into the future and has a significant research component: assess the costs and benefits of telehealth implementation including financial and non-financial identify barriers and enablers for implementing telehealth identify other potential and perceived outcomes and successes assess if additional roles (eg telehealth coordinators) can be developed and sustainably funded through patient travel savings and additional Medicare income develop strategies to deal with technical issues such as delay in communications with satellite solutions. This research will inform policy development to improve service delivery to remote communities and provide support to ACCHOs to expand telehealth and digital inclusion.

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Suggested Citation
Murtagh, D, St Clair, M, Marchant, N, 2017, Expansion of telehealth in remote northern Australia and the potential for international collaborations, Conference Paper, viewed 01 December 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=12122.

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