NBN, Libs plan both serve telemedicine

NBN, Libs plan both serve telemedicine

Summary: Leading surgeon and medical media pioneer, Professor Andrew Renaut, has said that either the National Broadband Network or the $6 billion Coalition alternative would be sufficient to overcome Australia's "bandwidth barrier", which he says is preventing technological advances in fields such as medicine and education.

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Leading surgeon and medical media pioneer, Professor Andrew Renaut, has said that either the National Broadband Network (NBN) or the $6 billion Coalition alternative would be sufficient to overcome Australia's "bandwidth barrier", which he says is preventing technological advances in fields such as medicine and education.

Professor Andrew Renaut

Professor Andrew Renaut says that either the NBN or the Coalition alternative would suffice for the expansion of video surgery and online education in Australia. (Credit: Andrew Renaut)

Renaut has been broadcasting "video surgery" to university students for the last four years through the Australian Institute of Medical Education.

While the operations are webcast at reasonable quality, Renaut said that an ADSL2+ connection is a minimum requirement for viewing the live procedures.

Renaut told ZDNet Australia that while Australia's current broadband infrastructure was adequate for streaming procedures at a reasonable quality, either the fibre-to-the-home NBN or the Coalition's national internet plan would be a powerful tool in the ongoing development of video surgery.

"I've always thought that Labor's NBN is very good, despite being jolly expensive, and while a cheaper solution may not be as good, it would probably suffice," said the professor.

While Renaut said that it was possible for the webcast to be compressed, the picture quality and in turn the education value would suffer.

"You need to have a certain level of quality when it comes to viewing operations [for training purposes], otherwise you may as well not bother," he said.

Renaut sees himself as ahead of the curve, and is looking to broadcast in high definition once greater bandwidth is available. He encourages his colleagues to do the same in an effort to create an online surgical training channel for university students.

Shadow Communications Minister Tony Smith and Coalition Finance spokesperson Andrew Robb yesterday revealed the long-awaited Coalition alternative to Labor's National Broadband Network. Liberal's $6 billion plan includes spending for fibre, wireless, satellite infrastructure and a metropolitan broadband optimisation program.

Topics: Broadband, Health, Networking, NBN

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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2 comments
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  • Suffice? SUFFICE??? Come on. If it suffices NOW, then it's going to be painfully ridiculous in a couple of years. Technology is supposed to be spurred on by other technology. Look at how the upgrade of internet over mobile technology has spurred on the smartphone market. It's like saying you can view internet over 2G and it sufficed! Jesus. We're supposed to be moving forward, not standing still.
    I'm from the health sector as well and we have to physical locations for surgeries and we are connected over a GRE tunnel with a 2/2mbs link and it suffices but it for just that it costs $2000/month! If the NBN comes around I can get a much better link for the fraction of the cost which would help our surgeries communicate better. I don't want things to be just OK, I want things to get better and better! The coalition's plan is just going to keep things the same.

    It's ok for him to say that they're doing things at a university and doing video conferencing but that is because there is already optical fibre linking all the universities together! What about the remote areas, GP's, smaller towns, smaller businesses and health facilities that can utilise the NBN. It's not just about big government and big private organisations, we have to think outside the BOX people!
    nsomniac
  • He says himself that he cannot send high definition video, despite having fibre at the university. What about remote diagnosis of an ultrasound from a small rural clinic, watched and guided by a busy specialist who could be called aside for five minutes to a computer in his Macquarie Street practice? Try doing that if the town only has wireless!
    umbria