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Telehealth in action with the Royal Flying Doctor Service

Telstra News

Posted on February 27, 2017

3 min read

As Telstra Health’s Colleen Birchley explains, telehealth services offer great opportunities to deliver services to people with chronic health problems living in regional and remote Australia.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australians in rural and regional areas have higher mortality rates and lower life expectancies than those in urban areas. Living in a rural area often means it’s difficult to see a specialist. You may have to wait months for an appointment and then have to travel a long way to attend.

Thanks to the Royal Flying Doctor Service better opportunities for health services are becoming a reality in regional Victoria.

For patient Ron Hick, the 300 kilometres between him and a diabetes specialist meant an eight hour round trip to Melbourne every three months. Thanks to a new partnership between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Telstra Health, Ron now receives specialist treatment without having to leave his home town.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been delivering telehealth to rural communities in Victoria since November 2013 and as part of the partnership local patients with diabetes can better connect with endocrinologists based at Baker in Melbourne from their local health centre.

Telstra Health has worked with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to build a new telehealth platform that facilitates this service by bringing together video conferencing capabilities along with secure document management, advanced clinician scheduling and an online booking system in a fully integrated and customisable solution.

For Ron, and many like him, this means that he no longer needs to travel long distances to see a specialist and can instead have his consultation in his local health centre.

Describing how this service has impacted him, Ron said: “The greatest impact for me has been the fact that instead of having to travel four hours each way to see my specialist, I now travel four minutes. I have great respect and admiration for the service.”

While the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria is making the service available to diabetes patients in Mildura, West Wimmera and Kerang, Telstra Health is working with them as they look to expand this service to other conditions and other regions in Victoria.

Using technology to help Australia’s healthcare sector better serve patients in a connected world is a strong focus for Telstra Health. Improving connectivity between patients and clinicians through technology improves the continuity of care that clinicians can offer their patients.