The Federal Government has announced $20.3 million in funding for nine telehealth projects, which will pilot new health care delivery methods with 2500 patients on the national broadband network.
More than $4 million of the funding will go to the CSIRO for two projects specifically aimed at reducing the cost burden of chronic disease sufferers and the elderly on the government.
One of the projects will use the NBN interim satellite service to provide tele-eye care services for 900 older and indigenous Australians living in rural and remote communities, with services expected to begin this month.
“These exciting initiatives will help demonstrate how important high-speed broadband is to the future of healthcare and highlight why it should be rolled out to all Australians,” Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement.
The Royal District Nursing Service will receive nearly $3 million for in-home videoconferencing and monitoring to allow nurses to reduce the frequency of home visits to chronically ill and elderly patients.
The CSIRO said video-based tele-consultations were already available to patients in some locations around Australia, but this was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what broadband could potentially deliver.
"We are very excited to be at the helm of these projects which bring together the best minds across CSIRO in health services research, computer science, mathematics, statistics and social science, to work with our partners on Australia’s largest telehealth study," said Sarah Dods, leader of health services for CSIRO’s digital productivity and services flagship.
Additionally, Flinders University will receive $2.5 million towards in-home telehealth services for palliative care, aged care and rehabilitation for the elderly, while Feros Care will be given $2.46 million for in-home monitoring of 200 older Australians.