The $1.8 million Serving Older Australians NBN enabled telehealth project has been launched in WA to support the delivery of home care services.

Federal Minister for Regional Communications Sharon Bird launched on Wednesday a National Broadband Network enabled telehealth trial to help support and monitor the health of older Australians in their homes.

The project, Serving Older Australians, will be delivered through the Aged Care Industry IT Council (ACIITC), which is jointly owned by LASA and ACSA, in partnership with technology company Accenture and aged service providers Silver Chain in WA and Illawarra Retirement Trust (IRT) in NSW.

In May LASA was awarded a $1.8 million funding grant by the federal government for the project involving 180 elderly participants in Geraldton WA and the Illawarra region of NSW to support the delivery of home care services remotely.

The delayed roll out of the NBN however has raised some concern about the ability to recruit for and implement the pilot.

The trial in Geraldton will see Silver Chain using the NBN’s Fixed Wireless connection to link the telehealth equipment to the Internet in the client’s home to monitor vital signs based on client answers to questions that are recorded daily, and to conduct face-to-face video calls and conferencing remotely.

Carole Bain, Silver Chain’s General Manager of Country Services, said telehealth allows health professionals to monitor a client’s health and to recognise any signs of deterioration.

“This enables the client to take steps to control the situation, for example, take medication, or seek advice from their GP and, in turn, prevent a visit to the emergency department or an admission to hospital,” she said.

“For rural clients, this means they can stay in their community and not have to travel to a regional hospital or even to their nearest capital city,” said Ms Bain.

Silver Chain will host and manage the secure database containing the health data for pilot clients in both states.

At the completion of the trial, Silver Chain and IRT will compare results and examine options for sustainable models going forward, said Ms Bain.

LASA CEO Patrick Reid said an added benefit of the project was that it will explore how telehealth information can be integrated to the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCeHR).

Telehealth could also be used to provide timely education to older Australians about their health and wellbeing, he said.

Mr Reid said he hoped that the pilot’s outcomes will encourage wider use of telehealth in aged care in the future.

ACIITC Chair Suri Ramanathan said the project will draw on the differences in the aged service providers’ locations and technical experience to encourage cross-country networking by clinicians.

“We want our providers to take a good thing one provider has and replicate it,” Mr Ramanathan said.

The project will also test the efficacy of telehealth consultations, such as the interaction between the patient and the clinician over video conference.

The project will run until the end of June 2014.

Geraldton residents aged 65 years or over may be eligible to take part in the trial. To find out more, contact Silver Chain Telehealth Nurse Linda Patmore on 0449 261 175.

Other NBN Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program funding recipients

  • Feros Care, My Health Clinic at Home, $2.461m
  • Royal District Nursing Service, Integrated Home Telehealth, $2.993m
  • Flinders University, Telehealth in the Home: Aged & Palliative Care in SA, $2.528m
  • Hunter New England Local Health District, Cancer Care Self-Management NBN Telehealth Program, $1.546m
  • UniQuest, ConTAC (Comprehensive Telehealth Assisted Care), $2.756m
  • Integratedliving, Staying Strong: Enhanced Aged Care for ATSI Australians, $2.104m
  • CSIRO, Home Monitoring of Chronic Disease for Aged Care, $2.748m
  • CSIRO, NBN Enabled Indigenous Tele-eye Care, $1.300m

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. I wonder why all this additional data is being collected and what real difference this will make for aged care?
    Getting older is not a medical condition.
    Certainly monitoring chronic diseases is probably worthwhile, but why collect data on every older person. Many 90 year olds need social interaction, or help getting dressed, not having their blood pressure monitored, or weight checked on a weekly basis.

  2. Perhpas this is just to test the concept and more useful things will happen once the technology is known to be working?

  3. In previous research that has been completed it demonstrates that Telehealth improves the quality of life of clients who are ageing. Certainly if you can prevent repeated admissions to hospital, no matter how old you may be can only be a benefit. Telehealth can also include a means do socialisation. For rural communities this can only mean progress.

  4. Telehealth is another one of those emerging factors that boards of aged care providers need to be aware off. Telehealth presents both threats and opportunities. Superficially, telehealth opens up opportunities for a provider outside of a region to monitor wellbeing. It may also concentrate data in the hands of a critical few – and data is important for informing decision making. On the other side it has potential to reduce the cost of monitoring wellbeing. Will small providers have the capacity to take advantage of telehealth? Do they have anyone on their board with any understanding of the NBN and telehealth? (www.johncoxon.com.au)

  5. The focus of our trial is to assist those living with a chronic condition to become more educated about their health and how they can manage their condition. Silver Chain has performed successful trials in the past demonstrating the success of chronic disease management via Telehealth but we would also like to explore where Telehealth can benefit the elderly in other ways. For example, wound management as the client can take high definition photos or live video of their wound and stream it back to their nurse or GP back at the clinic. This saves time and travel costs, especially for those in remote locations. Socialisation and education about their conditions can also be possible via Telehealth. We envision group forums where clients with similar conditions can dial in to a video conference and have educations sessions, plus group discussions about their condition. The further we delve into Telehealth, the more ideas of where this service can add benefit are becoming apparent and we can’t wait to explore them.

  6. Telehealth is another one of those emerging factors that boards of aged care providers need to be aware off. Telehealth presents both threats and opportunities. Superficially, telehealth opens up opportunities for a provider outside of a region to monitor wellbeing. It may also concentrate data in the hands of a critical few – and data is important for informing decision making. On the other side it has potential to reduce the cost of monitoring wellbeing. Will small providers have the capacity to take advantage of telehealth? Do they have anyone on their board with any understanding of the NBN and telehealth?

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