Research to Improve Access to Health Services for Regional and Rural Australians

A new Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Telehealth will work to improve access to health services for people living in rural and remote Australia.

Page last updated: 10 September 2014

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10 September 2014

A new Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) in Telehealth will work to improve access to health services for people living in rural and remote Australia.

Health Minister Peter Dutton officially launched the new CRE in Brisbane today.

The CRE was funded by the Australian Government, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, to help ensure more Australians can access high quality health services.

Communication between doctors and patients is an important factor for diagnoses, treatment and prevention of poor health. Telehealth uses video conferencing, email, image and data transfer and other electronic technologies to enhance communication in the rural and remote setting.

Mr Dutton emphasised the Australian Government’s commitment to making Australia’s health system more sustainable, effective and equitable.

“More than one third of Australians live outside of metropolitan areas. This is a large country and we are committed to ensuring that all people, regardless of where they live, can access quality health care,’’ Mr Dutton said.

“I believe that telehealth can help families receive the health advice and treatment they need, without having to travel vast distances.”

Telehealth has proven useful in improving access to health services, but its adoption has been largely confined to specialist areas such as radiology and dermatology, with limited uptake in general practice professionals such as nursing and allied health to date.

The new $2.5 million CRE, hosted by the University of Queensland and led by Professor Len Gray, will focus on settings where access to health services is especially challenging such as small rural hospitals, residential aged care facilities, disabled and older Australians requiring home care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Professor Gray and his team will seek to identify the reasons for the slow uptake in these settings in the context of general practice, and will work with a number of service providers to develop, implement and evaluate a telehealth program suitable to their needs.

Media Contact: John Wiseman – 041 776 108

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