NSW elderly get $4m for telehealth trial

New South Wales is set to receive $4 million in federal funding for a state telehealth trial as announced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy at a National e-Health Conference this morning.

New South Wales is set to receive $4 million in federal funding for a state telehealth trial as announced by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy at a national e-health conference this morning.

The trial will see elderly citizens given access to telehealth facilities via the National Broadband Network (NBN). They will be provided with telehealth monitoring units and high-definition video-conferencing systems in homes and primary healthcare facilities.

The new equipment will monitor blood pressure, glucose and cardiovascular function, and will be able to send alerts to a doctor or nurse when needed.

"The Gillard Government will provide up to $4 million in funding to NSW Health to trial the delivery of telehealth services into the homes of people aged over 65, including veterans with chronic diseases including cardiovascular and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," the minister said today.

"We know that most people prefer to stay at home when they are unwell and telehealth will allow people to receive their treatment where they feel most comfortable," he added.

In tandem with NSW Health, the telehealth trial will take place in the state's first NBN release sites of Armidale and Kiama Downs.

Conroy said that the funding would also go towards training local medical practitioners in use of the new equipment to monitor patients remotely.

"The aim of the trial will be to test the effectiveness of care provided by telehealth. It will look at the implications for telehealth — to reduce presentations to hospital or emergency departments, reduce the number of visits to GPs and other health services, reduce travel times and transport cost," Conroy said.

The trial will also look to determine the most practical equipment to use in future deployments of telehealth equipment, and aims to iron out the selection process for elderly candidates receiving the e-health gear.

"I expect to make further announcements about this trial in due course," said the minister in closing.

Conroy made the announcement at the 2010 e-health Conference in Melbourne, where yesterday, Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon announced an iPhone app for patients to view their consolidated e-health records.

The e-health conference is set to wrap up in Melbourne today.

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