New paper in the Practical aspects of Telehealth series

Establishing Telehealth in an institution, published this month in the Internal Medicine Journal, is the title of the fifth and latest in the Practical aspects of telehealth series of papers. According to the abstract the paper describes the development of a large teleoncology network over a vast geographical area in North Queensland, Australia.

The authors propose that the workforce, funding and infrastructure at rural sites, as well as the traditional mindset of healthcare professionals are key barriers to successful implementation of telehealth programmes. In the case of the Queensland teleoncology network, the rural hospital at Mt Isa, 900 km away from the central site, has been continually enhanced over a 5- to 6-year period. The success of the scheme is credited to these helping to overcome usual barriers.

Previous papers in this series are Practical aspects of telehealth: doctor patient relationship and communication, Practical aspects of telehealth: financial considerations (Journal in Internal Medicine), Practical aspects of telehealth: Are my patients suited to telehealth? and Practical aspects of telehealth: set-up and preparation for video consultations


Telehealth in South Australia – Medicare Locals

In 2011 the Australian Government established new organisations called Medicare Locals to plan and fund [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]extra health services in communities across Australia. Country South South Australia Medicare Local (CSSAML), one such Medicare Local, has been very active in promoting telehealth/telemedicine in its region covering just over 7% of South Australia.

Health areas to which telehealth has been directed by CSSAML include psychiatry, psychology, gastroenterology and cardiology. Videophones in GP practices and non-hospital settings provide telepsychology, telepsychiatry and other specialist services to support GP’s in rural communities via the State Government’s Digital Telehealth Network; (more…)

Telehealth is independent of broadband rollout – Australian DoH

We reported in September last year (Telehealth and Broadband in Australia) that the cost of the National Broadband Network in Australia was being debated with telehealth being proposed as a potential[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /] justification. The Australian broadband rollout was very ambitious with fibre to the premises (FTTP), one of the costliest solutions, as the target. The Government has now lowered its sights and does not expect to connect all premises with FTTP.

Recently a series of questions were raised in the Australian Parliament on both the status of telehealth in Australia and the broadband programme and what impact, if any, the latter has on the first.  The written reply from the Australian Department of Health is not unexpected and enlightening. (more…)

Australia’s telehealth incentive programme nears end

A multi-million dollar financial incentive programme to encourage Australian clinicians to start telehealth [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]schemes is due to end in June. Launched as a four-year programme in July 2011, the Telehealth On-Board Incentive Programme was funded from a wider AU$620 million telehealth initiative, but the end of the programme was brought forward to June 2014.

The Medicare rebates and financial incentives for specialist video consultations were introduced to address some of the barriers to accessing medical services, particularly specialist services, for Australians in remote, regional and outer metropolitan areas. The Telehealth On-Board incentive was one of five financial incentives in the wider initiative and encouraged and supported the initial and ongoing provision of telehealth services to eligible patients by practitioners. (more…)

Coffee break articles

Here’s a selection of articles  if you have a few idle minutes this coffee break in which to soak up some interesting views.

Emerging Niche: Telehealth from the American Occupational Therapy Association tells the story of what Jana Cason did when she took over an OT caseload which involved a 4-hour round trip.

Telecare handling 100,000 calls every six months from the Times of Malta gives a brief insight into telecare growth in Malta.

Telehealth trend rings in changes to care in The Tennessean debates the pros and cons of telehealth in pediatric care in the US

Do we know enough about telehealth to know it’ll work? from Total Politics is a fascinating debate by two British MPs and a Research Fellow from Nuffield Trust

South Korea to push Telehealth – good for Samsung

Returning from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where she met with several company CEOs, [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]South Korean President Park Geun-hye has decided to promote telehealth as a new growth engine for South Korea according to the Shanghai Daily. The president wants to see the country become a global leader in telehealth with a strong domestic use of the technology.

This is particularly fortunate for Samsung, the country’s largest group of companies, which is also said to be planning biomedicine and medical equipment to be among its growth sectors with a reported 10-year total of $22 bn (US) of investment across all its growth sectors. Samsung already produces major hospital equipment such as ultrasound and digital radiography systems, currently operates a massive hospital and cancer center in Seoul and is, (more…)

App helps guide the visually impaired

You may be familiar with the floor tapes used in large buildings to guide people to different areas or departments – [grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]I have seen these in many hospitals. A team in Italy’s University of Palermo have extended the idea to develop an inexpensive way to guide visually impaired people.

In a paper published last month Pierluigi Gallo and colleagues have described their work in developing Arianna, a system which can be used to guide people along complex paths (more…)

Telefonica and Capita to partner on eHealth

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Five months after pulling out of the telehealth market in the UK, Spain’s Telefonica has struck a partnership to develop eHealth solutions. In a recent press release Telefonica announced a “global partnership agreement” with Capita “to deploy innovative communications and telehealth technologies”. According to the release Telefonica is set to enhance its portfolio of eHealth services with clinical content.

One of the three criteria for choosing Capita as its partner is stated as Capita’s NHS Direct website for the UK Department of Health. However, the same NHS Direct service was said by a Department of Health spokesman earlier this year to have “struggled to meet the standards required” (more…)

Feros Care ponders what is beyond the telehealth pilot

The trouble with trials and pilots is they come to end. As the two-year pilot in Coffs Harbour, Australia, looms ahead Glen Payne, CIO of Feros Care has told iTnews that he is not looking forward to the day he has to go back to his elderly participants to uninstall the equipment.

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Under the service, participants are equipped with and trained to use technology such as a digital thermometer, blood pressure monitor, weight scale, pulse oximeter and glucometer according to Your Life Choices. (more…)

Rise of the internet and telehealth in India

An interesting post in the British Medical Journal Blog ( yesterday by a former president of the Telemedicine Society of India, K Ganapathy, suggests that India may be leap frogging the West in telehealth. (It is well accepted that many developing countries leap frogged in the telecommunications race when they skipped one or more steps in the process to catch up with the latest mobile telecoms technology.)

Ganapathy says that in a recent survey 48% of those responding in rural India and 72% in urban India had heard of mHealth and 55% overall intended to use mHealth if available. He says that the Indian Government is setting up 100,000 internet centres in rural India and suggests that extending these into remote telehealth access points is a reality. Read the whole posting here.

Telehealth in remote areas in NZ using videoconferencing

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]”When patient Whiti Fletcher went to Kaitaia Hospital’s renal unit for her regular dialysis, she had the complication of chest pains. Through a videoconferencing link, Mrs Fletcher was assessed by a renal specialist at Whangarei Hospital, who decided she was able to have dialysis at the unit in Kaitaia as planned, rather than face the four-hour return trip to Whangarei Hospital.” This is the example presented by the IT Health Board of the New Zealand Ministry of Health when describing the use of telehealth in the sparsely populated northern region of the New Zealand’s North Island. (more…)

Queensland Government to invest $31m in telehealth

The health minister of Queensland, Lawrence Springborg, has announced that the Queensland Government will invest $31m in telehealth over the next 4 years, according to a report in Brisbane Times.  It seems the spend will be primarily in remote consultation systems. The minister has said that the $30m of remote consultation equipment deployed by the previous government of Anna Bligh had largely failed to deliver, but has admitted that some of these are used for carrying out up to 25 consultations a day.

Read the full article here.

Telehealth and Broadband in Australia

Australia appears to be in the midst of a debate on the cost of building a national broadband network. According to the NBN Co which is buildng the network, the aim is to provide broadband to every home, school and workplace by the end of the next ten years. Nick Ross writing in ABC’s website suggests that just the ability to deploy telehealth and telecare nationally over such a network would save Australia enough money to more than pay for the network.

The arguments for deploying telehealth in Australia are no different to those in other parts of the developed world. The Australian healthcare budget is 10% of GDP (9% in UK) and growing at twice the rate of GDP, according to the very comprehensive article.

With a $967 price tag for a single night’s hospital stay, the economic benefit identified for using telehealth to monitor patients at home after earlier release from hospital or to avoid hospital admission altogether are very familiar. Add to that the use of telecare to allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer and Nick Ross’s article has covered all the elements for supporting telehealth and telecare.

Read the full article here.

Three perspectives on being old

These three items all happened to come in on the same day. Not telecare-related directly, but relevant to the main client group.

1. One third of older people in UK planning to live in one room in the winter. A survey by Help the Aged and British Gas.

2. Joan Bakewell (known in the 1960s as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’) now 75, just appointed by the UK Government to represent the interests of older people. Her manifesto – get more of the little things right to make life easier. The Independent’s take on the story.

3. Moving account by a Canadian of a visit to Scandinavian care homes: “The ageism that is so much part of North American society didn’t really hit me until I saw the vitality and freedom of older people in Denmark and Sweden…” From the Toronto Star.