The future of e-Health services with the NBN
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, on an average day in 2012, 324,000 people visited a GP, 23,000 people were admitted to hospital and 17,000 people visited a hospital emergency department1.
As Australia's population gets larger and increasingly older, these figures could rise significantly. We need to look for ways to provide the best quality care as efficiently as possible.
Future-proofing healthcare with the NBN
Telehealth services can help bridge the gaps between patients and the healthcare they need through high-speed broadband offered by the NBN. The Australian government has invested more than $20 million into the Telehealth Pilots Programme2, a research initiative designed to help future-proof healthcare services. The Programme awarded nine health research organisations between $1.3 million and $2.9 million to trial services that could improve and streamline healthcare using the National Broadband Network. The findings could prove invaluable for the advancement of telehealth services in Australia.
How doctors can use telehealth
The CSIRO recognised that during 2007-2008 chronic illness and healthcare for the elderly accounted for more than 70 per cent of Australia's $103.6 billion health spend3. Telehealth services could allow many local doctors to monitor elderly and chronically ill patients without the need for a GP or hospital visit. Using internet-connected devices that remotely monitor patients with chronic conditions such as asthma, kidney disease or diabetes, telehealth could help provide earlier intervention, as well as save millions (or even billions) in government healthcare spending.
The CSIRO was one of the organisations that received research funding as part of the Telehealth Pilots Programme2. The CSIRO research involved providing in-home telehealth systems to 150 elderly research participants who are living with chronic illnesses4.
These systems enabled the participants to record and report a range of vital sign measurements including electrocardiograms (ECG), blood pressure, weight, lung function, body temperature, blood oxygen and blood glucose levels. The systems also allowed patients to communicate easily with the researchers, using messaging and video conferencing. Initial results are promising, meaning the National Broadband Network is likely to play significant role in delivering high-quality, cost-effective healthcare solutions for Australians4.
The NBN could keep patients healthy at home
Many doctors and researchers strongly believe that giving Aussies access to superfast internet could vastly improve the delivery of healthcare services, particularly to chronically ill patients. Telehealth services could prove helpful in reducing GP wait times, hospital backlogs and ever-increasing government spending.
The National Broadband Network is currently being rolled out across Australia. Find out when you can connect to the NBN and keep up-to-date the latest NBN news.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2013, 'Australia's Health 2012: Spending on health', http://www.aihw.gov.au/australias-health/2012/spending-on-health/
2. Department of Health, Australian Government, February 2014, 'Telehealth Pilots Programme', http://health.gov.au/ehealth-nbntelehealth
3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010, 'Australia's Health 2010: the twelfth biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare', http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442452962
4. CSIRO, May 2013, 'Home monitoring of chronic disease for aged care', http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/Flagships/Digital-Productivity-and-Services-Flagship/Health-services/Monitoring-Chronic-Disease-for-Aged-C.aspx