"Of the millions of outpatient appointments being reported throughout major hospitals every year, it’s important to consider the potential of telehealth as an alternative method of engaging with patients."

Professor Anthony Smith


Telehealth for spinal pain

"The treatment I received in telehealth, I believe, was as good as what I could have had in any clinic situation and being able to do it in the house was a godsend."

Elaine, Telehealth patient


Telehealth for dermatology

"Telehealth is a great opportunity for people everywhere, because it will just give them that opportunity that they need to get good and quick advice and feedback from their specialist."

Tracie, Melanoma survivor


Telehealth for speech therapy

"We have had our patients link in from their home, their workplace and even when they’re on holidays, to access their therapy sessions. It’s efficient and effective and the patients appreciate the support and the convenience that it provides them."

Dr Clare Burns, Advanced Speech Therapist


Telehealth for aged care

"The telehealth service enables me to review frail and vulnerable older people in their own environment so they don’t have to travel up to hospital to access specialist services... I’ve been quite surprised at how well patients have adapted to this medium of providing health services."

Associate Professor Ruth Hubbard


Clinicians’ experiences of using telehealth

"Our research revealed a number of practices that helped facilitate building trust in telehealth consultations."

Associate Professor Nicole Gillespie

What is telehealth?

The International Organisation for Standardisation defines telehealth as the ‘use of telecommunication techniques for the purpose of providing telemedicine, medical education, and health education over a distance’, while drawing a distinction between this and telemedicine, which is defined as the ‘use of advanced telecommunication technologies to exchange health information and provide health care services across geographic, time, social and cultural barriers’.

Why has telehealth been introduced in Australia?

Government and non-government groups are aiming to remove barriers to access medical services for all Australians. The CRE is particularly focussed on researching ways in which equal access to specialist care can be achieved through telehealth. The long-term goal for the CRE is that patients using telehealth facilities in general practices, in residential aged care facilities, or at home and rural small hospitals will be able to access the care they need without the time and expense involved in travelling to major cities.
 

How will research further the cause of telehealth?

While the potential benefits of telehealth are often acknowledged, particularly in Australia where the distances are great and the population widely dispersed, the integration of telehealth within mainstream clinical practice is limited. The CRE aims to address a range of questions such as:

  • What health needs are currently being unmet that could be met using telehealth?
  • What are the barriers to telehealth implementation? Why is there still a poor uptake of telehealth?
  • What expertise and training are required to implement telehealth?
  • How does the cost of providing telehealth compare to the outcome?