26 September 2023

Health experts find telehealth a lifesaver

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Access to digital health care should be considered an essential component of future health care delivery, according to a report from the Australian Broadband Advisory Council’s Health Expert Working Group (HEWG).

In a statement, the Council said the Health Expert Working Group Report examined the digital ecosystem across the health sector, with a specific focus on how connectivity, technology and data could support new models of care, like the accelerated use of telehealth during the pandemic.

In its Report, HEWG said telehealth had reduced geographic barriers to important medical services and improved access for vulnerable patients.

“The integration of digital technology in the delivery of health care will help address rising health care costs across the sector, which are largely driven by the impact of aging and growing populations, market expansion, clinical advances and increased workforce demand,” HEWG said.

“The sector is currently at a turning point in delivery of digital health – while the ongoing investment in telecommunications infrastructure provides a strong platform for digital health, there remain opportunities to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies by health practitioners,” it said.

“Accelerating the implementation of value based digital health care would deliver system and consumer benefits, such as, expedite the realisation of increased access to health care, improved affordability, greater sustainability, higher efficiency and effectiveness and more consumer choice.”

HEWG said to harness these economic and community benefits, improved digital access to consumers and a positive regulatory and payment framework was needed.

The Group made eight recommendations aimed at integrating digital health within the current health ecosystem; improving patient engagement with the health care system; extending the reach of the health care system to regional/rural areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and improving digital skills for patients and health professionals.

The Group’s 38-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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