GP college posts video-conferencing guide

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners released guidelines today to help general practitioners to choose video-conferencing systems to be part of the government's telehealth initiative.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners released guidelines today to help general practitioners to choose video-conferencing systems to be part of the government's telehealth initiative.

Since 1 July, doctors have been eligible to receive a one-off payment for installing videoconferencing equipment for use in consultations of $6000 and an additional amount per consultation for conducting video conferencing consultations.

The idea is that patients in remote or regional areas will have better access to technology via video-conferencing appointments set up through their GP.

"The College has developed the guidelines to ensure general practitioners and practices are both well informed and equipped to make decisions relating to setting up video consultations in their practice with due diligence," Nathan Pinskier, RACGP e-health spokesperson, said in a statement.

On internet connections, the guide reminds GPs to take into account other services using the connection, such as computers, smartphones and EFTPOS devices, adding that practices may need to consider a dedicated connection to avoid contention issues.

The guide also warned GPs that upload speed is as important for video conferencing as download speed, saying that GPs should purchase a synchronous service.

The report recommended 1Mbps in each direction for standard-definition connections, and 1.5Mbps to 6Mbps for high-definition connections, which the guide considered to be best practice. Round-latency should ideally be less than 200ms, it said.

The guide tackles security and privacy considerations when buying equipment, pointing to other documentation that practitioners can consult. It also cautions general practitioners to be aware of the change management required when a new system is implemented. It gives brief instructions on what to look for in hardware.