Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Australia - Significant benefits claimed for telemedicine from the National Broadband Network

[the australian]COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has released a confidential report into the benefits of the National Broadband Network to doctors.

The opposition says the timing of the report, two days out from the poll, is a sign of desperation by Labor.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy commissioned Access Economics to study the "financial and externality impacts of ubiquitous high-speed broadband" on health and aged-care costs.

While the report was completed in June, it was made public only yesterday.

Access Economics found that a high-speed broadband network would return an annual benefit of between $750 million and $4bn from telehealth, but its conclusion was based on the premise that the NBN would have been built by last month. The NBN is not expected to be fully built and operational until July 2018.

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However, network trials have begun in Tasmania and Queensland, with other mainland sites expected to follow within weeks.

The department asked Access Economics to hone in on three areas, and explicitly excluded any benefits arising from shared electronic health records.

The research firm was asked to uncover the impact of a high-speed broadband network on telemedicine for remote consultations, remote home-based monitoring of chronic-disease patients and the aged, and remote training of medical professionals (using haptics, or tactile feedback technology).

The report found the NBN would overcome the tyranny of distance for medical institutions, especially those in rural areas.

Senator Conroy said the findings showed the NBN would overcome the technological barriers to telehealth.

Report trumpets benefits of NBN

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