The University of Sydney has opened a new telemedicine facility in regional NSW to provide people living with multiple sclerosis with better access to specialist care.
It follows the announcement that Monash University will lead the development of an NBN-enabled telehealth program for people with cystic fibrosis living in regional Victoria and the Northern Territory.
Sydney University's Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) will house a telemedicine room with video conferencing facilities to provide clinics to people with MS and other neurological diseases living in regional areas serviced by Dubbo.
Specialists will provide video consultations to patients from Sydney, while a rurally based and specially trained MS nurse will sit at the patient end at the university's School of Rural Health in Dubbo.
The facility was established by neurologist Michael Barnett and colleagues at the BMRI in association with the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Multiple Sclerosis Australia. The clinic will also support the teaching of rurally based junior doctors and medical students.
"There are currently no subspecialty multidisciplinary MS clinics in rural areas," Dr Barnett said in a statement. "We felt it was important to establish some way of providing timely and accessible care to patients with MS in rural areas."
In regional Victoria and the NT, people with cystic fibrosis will be able to attend video consultations with specialists based at Alfred Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital, Southern Health and Austin Health.
The federal and Victorian governments have pitched in $3 million to establish a video conferencing service to connect five Victorian rural health alliances and the Northern Territory with the Melbourne metropolitan hospitals.
Led by the Victorian Department of Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Service at Alfred Health, the Clinicians Online project will use cloud-based infrastructure to connect to the National Broadband Network to deliver high-capacity video conferencing to people in the Grampians, Loddon Mallee, Southwest, Hume and Gippsland rural health alliances.
Clinicians Online will also allow the real-time transfer of imaging, patient records and test results to support clinical decision-making.
Head of the CF Service at Alfred Health, Professor John Wilson, said the project was capable of extending to a wide range of medical specialties, including renal medicine, infectious diseases and general medicine.
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