Health Providers Benefit From Broadband

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Thousands of healthcare providers throughout Australia are now reaping the benefits of business grade broadband, thanks to the Australian Government’s Broadband for Health program.

Business grade broadband is a high-speed, always-on, communications link that provides faster access to vital healthcare information such as pathology results, hospital discharge summaries, specialist reports and X-ray images.

High-speed access to clinical information is helping to improve healthcare processes; reduce the need for travel; improve communication; assist in education; reduce phone costs and lessen isolation for those especially in rural and remote areas.

The Australian Government’s Broadband for Health program will spend $69 million over three years to 30 June 2007 to support the uptake of broadband services in general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and community pharmacies nationwide.

The Australian Government’s Eastern Goldfields Regional Reference Site (EGRRS) is an excellent example of how broadband can improve healthcare services in regional communities by increasing safety, quality and efficiency though communications infrastructure. In recognition of its excellence, on 7 March 2006 the EGRRS project won the Australian Telecommunications Users Group award for Best Communications Solution (Regional).

Dr Andrew Siegmund, an EGRRS participant and a general practice project manager, said that with the implementation of the network, his practice had gone from very basic systems to a cutting-edge technology network without problems.

“We can see benefits. The network is running smoothly and we are saving on costs. We’ve seen improvements in the way we run our practice using the applications the network carries,” Dr Siegmund said.

EGRRS participants moved on 1 July 2006 to the locally owned GoldHealth Network and continue to see the benefits of being part of a health services network.

The Broadband for Health program draws together several Government initiatives including the Access to Broadband Technology initiative to support health sector broadband connectivity. It has strong links to the National Broadband Strategy that is managed by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

The program receives stakeholder input through the Broadband for Health Working Group, made up of key health, consumer, government and industry representatives.

For more information about the Australian Government’s Broadband for Health program and the new Managed Health Network Grants initiative, please click here.

This article was supplied by the e-Health and Technology Branch of the Department of Health and Ageing.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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