The Western Australian Government has today announced the completion of a $6 million upgrade of the state's Telehealth system, which will allow patients to receive health consultations via video-conferencing.
WA Health Minister Kim Hames said that the new technology would reduce the need for patients to travel long distances to receive health care and would save the WA health system around $1.5 million every year.
"Delivery of high quality health services is a team approach and for rural and remote patients, the health team may not always be within either the same location or within the state health system," he said.
"A rural patient requiring follow-up wound care may have a team comprised of clinicians from both Perth and the local health provider involved in their post surgery care via video-conferencing," he added. "The clear advantage of this approach is the improved clinical communication between the health care team, plus reduced travel and dislocation for the patient."
The State Government funded $3 million of the upgrade, with the Commonwealth Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy matching that fund as part of its Clever Networks program.
For now the technology has only been rolled out to 350 dedicated units across the state, limited to government and non-government healthcare providers and GPs connected to the WA Health network, but Hames said the service could potentially be expanded into patients' homes in the future.
"We have established a strong infrastructure base, positioning WA well for service innovation and delivery, but we are really at the start of the Telehealth journey in WA Health," he said.
"There is still work to do to further develop and enhance Telehealth and realise its full potential. It's a very exciting work in progress."