Satellite links look ROSIE for eHealth in the Kimberley
Healthcare organisations servicing some of the remotest parts of the country will have access to dedicated satellite internet links for use in eHealth and telehealth provision following a $2 million subsidy agreement with a supplier of corporate satellite communication links.
A number of healthcare providers have come together in an initiative led by the Kimberley-Pilbara Medicare Local (KPML) called Remote Outback Australia Satellite Infrastructure Enablement for eHealth (ROSIE-eH).
ROSIE-eH is an open collaboration bringing together a number of private, corporate and non-government primary, allied, mental health and aged care providers from the initial target region of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. The organisers say there is also keen interest from central and northern Queensland and western New South Wales-based organisations.
The initiative was developed following a summit held earlier this year in Broome, which focused on the difficulties healthcare providers have in accessing adequate satellite internet and installing satellite infrastructure in remote regions.
At the conclusion of the summit, it was agreed that a proposal for funding be written outlining these challenges and coming up with ideas for how funding for reliable satellite links could be obtained to improve access to healthcare in advance of the launch of the two long-term satellites in 2015 as part of the National Broadband Network.
According to KPML's chief information officer Rob Starling, the consortium has now successfully negotiated with a leading supplier of corporate satellite communication links, supported by mining and service companies, for a 75 per cent discount – worth $2 million – for two 2Mb managed, contended links and access to a 1Mb dedicated link over two years for ROSIE-eH participants.
Dr Starling said three remote and very remote Aboriginal community controlled health services have received funding from the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and SA's Country North Medicare Local for installation, commissioning and operating links through ROSIE for the next year.
“The Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council (KAMSC) is using a 2/2Mb link to tune the ROSIE service delivery model with the satellite service provider,” Dr Starling said.
“This initial work is across three very remote service delivery locations with six other sites also coming online. The work includes testing various codecs for tele-videohealth consultations and case conferences.
“This foundation work will have a cumulative benefit for new sites as they come online and contribute their own innovations in remote eHealth service delivery for their patients and clients using ROSIE.”
Dr Starling said a follow-up workshop to the Broome summit was hosted by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs last week. “The purpose was to critique the proposed business model, service level agreements and operational processes for ROSIE and a strategy to engage further private financial assistance,” he said.
“Assistance or engagement will be sought in operational support, on-site training by GPs and specialists and promoting the inclusive ethic of the initiative.”
Work was also outlined for seeking public funding for research and eHealth innovations using ROSIE for outback satellite internet-based eHealth, including video conferencing, focusing on meaningful use of the PCEHR system and national standards.
KPML's efforts in remote eHealth and telehealth service delivery have been partially supported by the Australian Medicare Local Alliance (AMLA) and the Medicare Local Cluster Hub support program by the Department of Health and Ageing.
The organisations involved in getting ROSIE-eH from an idea to operational in just over three months have all carried their own costs, he said. “All appreciate this mutual commitment to making inclusive eHealth in outback Australia happen over the next two years to fill the gap until the NBN satellites are commissioned.”
Posted in Australian eHealth