Broadband services will be rolled out to 40 rural and remote towns in the Grampians, Victoria to improve health benefits.
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Daryl Williams announced the engagement of a carrier and start of the rollout of the Grampians Rural Health Alliance Network (GRHANet) project which received AU$8 million through the National Communications Fund.
GRHANet reached an agreement with Telstra Country Wide to rollout the broadband services as well as with Dimension Data Australia to provide network management services.
The GRHANet project includes installing major broadband capability at local hospitals and customer connections to an additional 80 non-hospital sites, including general practitioners' offices, community health centres, pharmacies, Home and Community Care (HACC) service providers in local government agencies and community enterprise and learning centres.
Williams said this will provide a telecommunications network able to integrate voice, video and data communication services for all health care and community service providers in the region.
The network will also allow rural healthcare agencies to provide telecounselling via the broadband connection. Other benefits include the fast retrieval of electronic health records and teleradiology, where medical images can be sent and interpreted quickly across long distances. It is hoped that the availability of Voice Over IP services will also deliver significant savings for the health sector.