The challenge: The cost of delivering healthcare is increasing

Managing the rising cost of delivering healthcare is a major challenge for Australia.

Targeting health services to assist the chronically ill and ageing population – which accounted for over 70 per cent of Australia’s $103.6 billion health expenditure during 2007-2008 – can help to reduce the load on our health system and hospitals.

‘Frequent flyers’ are high cost patients to the health system, who typically have a combination of complex medical conditions such as lung disease, cardiovascular disease or diabetes and visit the hospital two or more times per year.

Our response: Monitoring patient care using telehealth

We’re undertaking Australia’s first large scale telehealth clinical trial. Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunication technologies.

Funded by the Australian Government Broadband Enabled Telehealth Pilots Program, the 12-month trial will help deliver the information and evidence needed to deploy telehealth services nationally. We have also designed the trial to determine whether telehealth can be used to reduce hospital admissions for high cost patients by up to 50 per cent. It will be undertaken with 150 patients over six fibre and fixed-wireless high speed broadband connected sites around Australia.

We’re working with NGOs, local health districts, hospitals and industry partners iiNet and TeleMedCare to deliver the project.

Managing chronic disease at home using telehealth.

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The results: Improving health and reducing hospital admissions
By helping chronic disease patients self-manage their conditions at home through the provision of telehealth services, health workers can assess changes in their conditions remotely and provide appropriate care interventions earlier to help them stay out of hospital and improve their quality of life.

Health services delivered through home telemonitoring have been shown to deliver cost-effective, timely and improved access to quality care.

They can also help reduce social dislocation and enhance the quality of life.