Hospitals could gain by more than $190 million over 10 years using broadband, if a recent report proves correct.
The National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE) has claimed an Access Economics report has proven that connecting hospitals to broadband would extend the reach and cuts costs of providing many essential healthcare services, such as psychiatry, ultrasound and radiology.
The report, dubbed The Economic Impact of an Accelerated Rollout of Broadband in Hospitals, claimed that broadband adoption would cut the cost of transporting patients and staff to consultations in remote areas.
'The productivity benefits of more efficient health service delivery are potentially significant,' NOIE said in a statement. Benefits would also accrue from moving services from the multiple networks and media currently used to a single broadband-based network.
Meanwhile, healthcare was becoming more expensive and costs needed to be contained. Tony Abbott, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, said broadband could deliver 'big improvements' in the efficiency, quality and safety of services in hospitals and other parts of the healthcare system.
NOIE added that the health sector's access to broadband was 'a major consideration' for the National Broadband Strategy, being developed by the State and Territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association.
'Health sector outcomes are a major emphasis of the government's $23.7 million Coordinated Communications Infrastructure Fund,' NOIE said.
NOIE promised that a national demand aggregation broker for the health sector would be appointed in 2004 to assess and coordinate broadband service delivery for health care providers.