Telehealth initiative that will help remote communities in the NT get better access to healthcare.

Healthier future for remote Northern Territory communities

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today launched a telehealth initiative that will help remote communities in the Northern Territory get better access to healthcare.

The Health eTowns TelehealthNT Network project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments and is part of a $20 million Digital Regions Initiative that will:

  • improve the delivery of health and education services to people in 47 remote towns in the Northern Territory;
  • provide telehealth services to emergency rooms and resuscitation areas in Northern Territory regional hospitals and 17 Territory Growth Towns; and
  • allow doctors based in Darwin to examine, talk to, and diagnose patients in remote areas through the use of high-definition Medicarts and room-based units.

“Telehealth has the potential to save lives. Through high-speed broadband, people in remote areas can get speedy healthcare and clinical attention when they need it. It also removes the burden of travel, helping patients stay in their communities and potentially recover faster”, Senator Conroy said

“Interactive online education and training programs have also been implemented to give students and trainees access to mainstream health education programs that are currently only available to students in larger cities.

“The Health eTowns initiative will help close the healthcare and education gap experienced by remote communities in the Northern Territory”, Senator Conroy said.

Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, said the investment in high-speed broadband will improve access to necessary health care for many remote and Aboriginal communities across the Territory.

“Thousands of people live in remote communities and through telehealth services, like Health eTowns, they will be able to access better care, specialists and more health information closer to home.

“This technology will be a great weight off the mind of many people across the Territory, who know that at times seeing the right doctor at the right time can be difficult. Telehealth means that a consultation, a check-up or out-patient follow up is only a video call away”, Mr Snowdon said.

Minister Vatskalis said the implementation of the Health eTowns project is boosting innovation in healthcare by enabling specialist services.

“I am pleased that since the project started  in 2010, the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Government have boosted their contributions so services can be expanded beyond the initial target of 17 Territory Growth Towns into a further 30 remote communities in the Northern Territory”, Minister Vatskalis said. 

This additional funding is also being used to develop a telehealth connection service. This will make it easier for the states and territories to work together on telehealth, helping them share relevant health information and improve health services.

The Australian Government is co-funding a further 13 projects and three NBN-enabled trials across Australia through the $60 million Digital Regions Initiative. Details can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/digitalregions

Joint media release

Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP
Minister for Indigenous Health
Federal Member for Lingiari

The Hon Kon Vatskalis MLA
Minister for Health
Northern Territory Government

Date: 31 July 2012

Contact:

Adam Sims (Senator Conroy)

0408 258 457

Marcus Butler (Minister Snowdon)

0417 917 796

Maria Billias (Minister Vatskalis)

0411 119 746

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