Telehealth: Critical connectivity is only a product away
Telehealth services have been on the rise for several years now. Since early March 2020 telehealth services skyrocketed, more than 86.3 million COVID-19 MBS telehealth services have been delivered to 16.1 million patients, with $4.4 billion in Medicare benefits paid.
More than 89,000 providers have used telehealth services. To protect patients and healthcare providers from COVID-19 transmission, the Australian Government expanded telehealth services. Recognising its important role, on 1 January 2022, the Australian Government made telehealth a permanent feature of our primary healthcare system. This allowed more health professionals to provide care remotely.
On 16 January 2022 the Australian Government announced further changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule. These changes were aimed at supporting the community and the health system through this evolving health emergency investing $308.6 million, including $106 million for a permanent telehealth for Australian patients.
Telehealth has been transformational to Australia’s universal health care and has played a critical role in ensuring the continuity of care for hundreds of thousands of Australian patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health of patients and health professionals. It offers greater flexibility to health care as part of universal Medicare.
Telehealth can assist healthcare systems, organisations and providers expand access to and improve the quality of rural healthcare. Using telehealth in rural areas to deliver and assist with the delivery of healthcare services can reduce or minimise challenges and burdens patients encounter. It can also improve monitoring, timeliness, and communications within the healthcare system.
Using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to deliver health services and transmit information over both long and short distances. It is about transmitting voice, data, images and information, rather than moving care recipients, health professionals or educators. It encompasses diagnosis, treatment, preventive (educational) and curative aspects of healthcare services and typically involves care recipient(s), care providers or educators in the provision of these services directed to the care recipient.
Video conferencing is the preferred approach for substituting a face-to-face consultation and is one of the main ways of improving access to healthcare services for patients who live in regional, rural and remote areas. “While Telehealth has been an important lifeline for people in rural, regional and remote Australia during the pandemic connectivity remains a big issue in rural Australia, and we need to be improving internet infrastructure in the bush otherwise telehealth is difficult or impossible for patients and health practitioners to use,” said National Rural Health Alliance CEO Dr Gabrielle O’Kane.
Telehealth is only as good as the bandwidth it occupies.
The post pandemic workforce has emerged from lock down and created an unprecedented demand for connectivity; as we settle into the ‘new normal’, the need for innovative connectivity solutions is now more critical than ever.
The Cellferno is a revolutionary product to the Australian market, developed using innovative mobile technology which delivers high-speed data for basic internet access to mission-critical applications. Connectivity is the new currency in light of current global restrictions, with connectivity solutions like Cellferno critical for consumers and businesses in order to digitally navigate restrictions.
Cellferno can provide users with super-fast internet speeds and connectivity, with the single box design containing multiple antennas and a built-in modem to capture the best possible signal outdoors. With a single ethernet cable powering the Cellferno device, it can be connected directly to a computer, network switch or a WIFI access point to provide high-speed internet to devices within range.
Cellferno’s focus is on speed, it can act as a primary internet for areas with poor internet, cellular or NBN service with speeds up to 2.5Gb/s. The Cellferno M2000 5G Fixed Wireless unit provides multi-gigabit data speeds by combining both 4G and 5G carriers. Supporting the latest 5G NR standard along with an incredible Cat-22 4G LTE chipset. The unit has dual-sim redundancy, IP67 weatherproof casing that supports Australia’s temperature extremes, this unit is ideal for enterprise and industrial customers demanding high data rates with high reliability.
“The need for better connectivity is still critical, with people staying at home, organisations are continuing to support a return to work and work from home balance, businesses using online tools or platforms, and the necessity of web-based learning.”
“Cellferno is an extension to Powertec’s current mobile broadband product offering, providing an additional high-speed connectivity solution to our product portfolio.”
— Powertec Training Manager, Paul Boyce.
In this current climate of wireless dependency, Cellferno delivers the ultimate high-speed internet connectivity solution, especially where cable-based internet is not available. The Cellferno has allowed Powertec to provide fast reliable internet connectivity to clients in a previously fragmented area.
The fixed wireless solution is taking on the NBN, or inadequate broadband connections, across many rural areas across Australia. Australians living in the bush are missing out on billions of dollars of medical care each year because there aren’t enough doctors and nurses to treat them, says the sector’s peak body, which is calling for an overhaul of how governments pay for rural healthcare. The National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) estimates that 7 million people, or about 28 per cent of Australia’s population, are forgoing $4 billion of healthcare because of a lack of GPs, specialists and allied health workers such as psychologists and physiotherapists in rural and remote areas.
The Australian Broadband Advisory Council released the Health Expert Working Group’s report into enhancing Australia’s digital health ecosystem. The report focuses on how connectivity, technology and data can support new models of care, like the accelerated use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key recommendations from the report was extended reach of health services, particularly in regional rural and remote areas and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by improving patient connectivity.
Although internet infrastructure is available to almost all Australians, more than 2.5 million remain offline, the take up of the NBN continues to close the gap in access for rural Australia, however, there are substantial differences in digital inclusion between Australians living in rural and urban areas.
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