CSIRO and HTA improve health care for regional Australians


Tuesday, 10 January, 2017


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A new partnership between CSIRO’s Data61 and Health Team Australia (HTA) will provide a telehealth service for those living in rural and remote areas.

An alliance between HTA and Coviu, a CSIRO Data61 project, will see Coviu’s real-time communication online video platform rolled out to HTA customers across Australia.

The service is expected to connect up to 20,000 patients with online healthcare professionals, who would otherwise be disadvantaged by limited access to professional medical help.

“Coviu gives health professionals direct access to the lives of remote patients so they can prescribe a health plan that is meaningful to their lives and relevant to their situation,” said Andrew Mahony, HTA.

“It enables us to provide individuals and organisations in rural and remote areas with evidence-based support and on-demand access to allied health experts.

“Coviu gives people the opportunity to stay in their community for longer as they age and continue to play a meaningful role in the community.”

Almost 50% of Australians suffer chronic diseases such as cancer, mental health or diabetes and a further 13 million are at risk of developing chronic disease.

The new video consultation service will extend existing healthcare solutions and services from professionals such as exercise physiologists, dieticians, psychologists, mental health nurses and occupational therapists.

HTA’s new online service will be offered to patients via a range of partners across Australia.

Non-profit YMCAs in Victoria, NSW and the ACT have already begun delivering these services to metropolitan communities and are now extending their health plan and coaching services to those that do not have access to a local YMCA.

Coviu Project Director Dr Silvia Pfeiffer said the platform was designed to seamlessly integrate into existing workflows, allowing practitioners to live-share medical data and images.

“Approximately 10% of the Australian population is spread across 90% of its area, and these people have poor access to medical specialists that’s taken for granted in large metropolitan areas,” Pfeiffer said.

“There is a real need to make video consultations a standard delivery mechanism of health services across Australia. Coviu does so in an affordable manner with the tools that clinicians need.”

An analysis of Medicare statistics from 2016 showed that less than 4% of health practitioners in private practice currently provide telehealth services to their patients.

Data61 CEO Adrian Turner said this was an example of how Australian start-ups are working with industry to transform the health sector and deliver new services to Australians.

“By collaborating with industry partners we can help deploy digital technologies on a national scale, providing cost-effective and tailored health services to all Australians,” Turner said.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Yong Hian Lim

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