Posted on Monday, 25 May 2015
Don't assume rural and remote citizens have good quality, reliable internet. For Telehealth and other connecting technologies to increase access for rural and remote communities, we need to lobby for infrastructure that for some regions is just not there. The opportunity is to work with other sectors of the economy who also need adequate internet services to take advantage of the innovation online technologies can bring.


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Comments

Exactly! If it's unacceptable in metro when the internet goes down for a short period of time, imagine the limitations on health service provision when the internet isn't available as a resource. How are people who don't have the same access to physical educational and support persons and materials meant to improve their situation if they don't have good access to the net?

I agree ... BUT ... telehealth cannot wait until there is NBN everywhere, otherwise this wont happen. Telehealth needs to be normal healthcare, accessible where convenient and clinically appropriate, this might still be some travel, but not as far a travel. We have negotiated with companies, councils and individuals that have quality connections to help others in their community to access services that are available via telehealth. We cannot hold back waiting, we must make and demand that services are available to people that need them, and make it happen

Yes definitely can't wait for NBN to be everywhere, but we can't point to Internet-based or Internet-supported services and say "this is the way forward for rural and remote"; and then say "but you can't have it because your rural/remote area was forgotten when we put the infrastructure in place". At the same time as we are delivering web-supported services to those communities who can access it, we need to be advocating for access for those who can't.

Important to emphasise the compelling economic as well as clinical justifications for getting quality on-line everywhere. Tuesday's papers on the savings from caring for the chronic and elderly for as long as possible at home or in home ommunity provided great evidence for huge cost-benefit advantages.

I agree, too, but there are also solutions which require minimal bandwidth. Roll-out of solutions shouldn't be delayed, but minimal / intermittent coverage should be kept in mind in the development/choosing of solutions, while the pressure maintained to improve coverage, bandwidth and consistency, as it is a relatively cheap way of improving equity of access etc I worked in a place that had patchy coverage and areas with very low (124kbs!!) bandwidth and while the patchiness still exists due to infrastructure issues, the bandwidth issue was a bureaucratic one which was resolved by some lobbying of the service provider...

I agree - the infrastructure, as well as Government policy and the Medicare Benefits Schedule have not kept up with the rapid development of technology and telehealth. Telehealth is not the answer for all of our rural and remote access issues, but it is part of the solution. One issue is ensuring that MBS rebates will support his, otherwise GPs and allied health professionals will be expected to "do this for free", which of course is not sustainable.

I agree - we need to use innovative solutions to address persistent problems. Online is the way to go, while recognising limitations of coverage and providing alternative access for those without current coverage.