Telehealth gets $20 million boost

The federal government has announced $20 million in funding over two years for pilot projects to develop and deliver telehealth services in areas where the National Broadband Network (NBN) is being rolled out.

The NBN Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program is aimed at NBN-enabled homes with a focus on aged, palliative or cancer care services, including advance planning services.

Funded projects will be expected to be sustainable and scalable outside of the NBN early release sites and potentially to a national level as the NBN rollout continues.

The program wants to develop and trial services which demonstrate how telehealth services can be delivered to the home in new and innovative ways, enabled by high speed broadband.

Participating consumers are expected to access high‐quality health services from the comfort and convenience of their homes through the remote monitoring of their vital health indicators, access from home to high‐definition video consultations, and healthy living support.

The project is also aimed at showing how health services can become more accessible in regional, rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas, and reduce unnecessary hospitalisation.

Funding is available to cover the cost of equipment such as tablet devices, service provider computers, and staffing and administrative costs.

The program will commence on July 1 and conclude on June 30, 2014, with the amount of funding for individual pilots generally set at around $1 million to $3 million.

Applications will open in March and close in April. Draft program guidelines are available here and final guidelines will be released when applications open.

Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said that older Australians would stand to gain the most from the boost to telehealth services.

“As we age, health issues tend to be more prevalent and we’re much more likely to require care and support from a wider range of health professionals,” Mr Butler said.

“Expanding telehealth services to older Australians still living in their own homes will help health professionals identify potential health problems earlier, reduce the need for older Australians to travel to receive treatment and increase access to healthcare services and specialists.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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