Feros Care wins new funding for telehealth rollout

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Feros Care wins new funding for telehealth rollout
User discusses medication with Feros Telehealth

Successful NBN pilot leads to ongoing deployment.

Aged care not-for-profit Feros Care has received the nod to expand the service to other regions following a successful pilot of its telehealth technology in Coffs Harbour.

The organisation has been given Commonwealth funding to roll out its telehealth service - which connects seniors to medical information and nursing staff from the comfort of their living room chairs - into South East Sydney on a more permanent basis, now that grants have dried up for its NBN-enabled Coffs trial.

The service, called My Health Clinic at Home (MHCAH), was formally launched across Feros' new Sydney sites this week. Promotion of the service, to increase uptake and community awareness, will begin next week.

The service includes the installation of a touch-screen tablet that uses a simple big button interface that is customised for each client. Medical grade Bluetooth devices are paired to the tablet to allow for wireless transmission of vital signs such as blood pressure, weight, blood glucose and temperature.

Vital signs are then transmitted to a cloud-based triaging portal for a nurse or doctor to monitor patient care.

The tablets offer high definition video to allow the patient to talk to a Feros telehealth nurse, doctor or specialist either one-on-one or all together using multi-conferencing technologies. The tablet is also equipped with social video conferencing to allow patients to call family and friends with a one-click solution.

The service is initially being provided over 4G and ADSL, with plans to transition to high speed broadband when it is rolled out.

Feros CIO Glenn Payne - who was a finalist in the Healthcare CIO of the Year awards - told iTnews it would work with whatever bandwidth available but was looking forward to expansion of the NBN.

“Feros will look at the available services in the client’s area and work with them to get the best possible experience, if NBN is available we will certainly pick this service first due to it speeds and stability," he said.

The Coffs Harbour pilot provided a chance to hone the service with improvements including the use of lighting, head phones and adjustments to the user interface.

“The NBN pilot was invaluable in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the service,” Payne said.

The tools will be deployed to residents in South East Sydney who are over 65, and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders over 50, who have a chronic health condition such as unstable blood pressure, lung disease, diabetes or heart failure. Patients will pay just $10 a week to use the service.

Future plans for the service include expanding the rollout of the MHCAH tablet for virtual case management of other clients. 

“It won’t be focused on clients with chronic conditions, more as a tool for clients to link virtually to our care managers, friends and families and health professionals from their home,” Payne said.

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