“Telehealth is already proving its worth in making healthcare more accessible to rural and remote patients, through enabling them to undertake follow-up consults with distant specialists via videoconferencing (accompanied by their local GP) or to undertake mental health consults with psychologists.
This has been a great start, and we commend the current and previous governments for investing in this important area.
But it is now time to take telehealth to the next level.
We are calling on the Federal Government to now fund telehealth consultations for rural and remote patients with their local GPs, and for Federal Labor to commit to doing the same if they are elected.
Boosting access to consults with local rural GPs via telehealth for those living in the bush would be a tremendous step forward in making it easier for more rural and remote patients to improve their health outcomes.”
RDAA President, Dr Adam Coltzau see full Press Release Part 1 Below
Download Submission Here
” Our new tele-follow up prog for children with hearing aids in remote communities includes a family-nominated Hearing Helper role. We support them to support family & they help us connect via video. Wondering if this is novel?”
Australian Hearing has launched a trial of a teleOutreach service that provides a follow-up appointment with hearing impaired Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote locations via video-chat ”
Sam Harkus See Part 2 Below
As the major political parties develop their election platforms in the lead-up to the next federal election, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) are calling for a strong commitment to boost access to telehealth services for patients in the bush.
RDAA and ACRRM have lodged a submission with the major parties that proposes increasing access to telehealth consults with rural GPs as part of a cycle of care arrangement for rural and remote patients.
The patient would first see their regular rural or remote GP face-to-face and then be able to access and MBS rebate for a fixed number of follow-up consultations by telehealth — not just for specific conditions, but also for routine general practice health care checks.
The submission has been supported by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
ACRRM President, Associate Professor Ruth Stewart, said: “The tyranny of distance discourages many rural patients from seeing their doctor.
“For many rural patients who live on properties far from town, or who live many hours’ drive away from their nearest GP, a trip to the doctor even for a short consultation can entail a full day away from the farm, work or home.
“Sometimes this can be a big contributor in rural and remote patients not visiting their doctor, even when they have an underlying health condition and should be seeing the doctor regularly for checkups.
“Increasing access to telehealth consults with their regular GP for these patients will make it much easier for them to get their health checked regularly.
“The initial rollout of telehealth in the specialist care and mental healthcare space has shown that it can be very successful in making healthcare more accessible in the bush, provided it is used to support, rather than replace, face-to-face services.
“It would be great to see telehealth now expanded to increase the ability of rural and remote patients to consult their local rural GP for a wide range of conditions, including follow-up checks and ongoing care for chronic conditions.”
For the past three decades Australian Hearing has been dedicated to improving access to hearing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Now Australian Hearing has launched a trial of a teleOutreach service to further our support. This service provides a follow-up appointment with hearing impaired Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote locations via video-chat.
The service, called TeleFUP, is led by Australian Hearing’s dedicated team of outreach audiologists and delivers support to children in remote communities after they are fitted with their first hearing aid.
The six-month trial will focus on providing follow up support to children and some adults within two to three weeks of receiving their hearing aid. These children and their families currently wait on average three months for a face-to-face follow-up. A small teleOutreach team of Sydney and Melbourne-based audiologists will connect with remote community clients across the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
A strength of the TeleFUP program will be community Hearing Helpers. These are people who live and work in the community, who already play a role in the child’s life. Australian Hearing will also support the Helpers remotely so they can provide assistance to families.
“For over 30 years, the aim of Australian Hearing’s outreach program has been to improve access to hearing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through building strong community connections. The program has reached a new landmark with the launch of the TeleFUP trial,” says Samantha Harkus, Principal Audiologist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services, Australian Hearing.
“The first few weeks with a hearing aid are critical. It’s a time when extra support is needed. However, in remote communities there is usually less assistance available for families. Through TeleFUP, Australian Hearing can provide better support from a distance and help to strengthen community support. This will make it easier for children to make great use of their hearing aids so they can hear easily,” says Samantha.
TeleFUP is Australian Hearing’s second teleOutreach program, now joining TeleFIT which started in 2016. TeleFIT is a video-fitting clinic aimed at children under five years in remote communities.
As an Australian Hearing initiative implemented in partnership with Queensland’s Aboriginal Hearing Health program Deadly Ears, TeleFIT has significantly reduced waiting time and tripled the number of children receiving hearing aids before they start school.