Australia aims to improve NT healthcare with IT

A new government telehealth program aims to “close the healthcare and education gap experienced by remote communities in the Northern Territory,” said Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy.

The program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NT governments and is part of a $20 million digital regions initiative.

The Health eTowns TelehealthNT Network project aims to enhance delivery of health and education services to 47 remote towns and provide teleheatlth services to emergency rooms and resuscitation areas in regional hospitals and 17 territory growth towns, Conroy's office said. The program will “allow doctors based in Darwin to examine, talk to, and diagnose patients in remote areas through the use of high-definition Medicarts and room-based units."

A telehealth connection service is also under development through the funding, Conroy's office said. “This will make it easier for the states and territories to work together on telehealth, helping them share relevant health information and improve health services.”

“Telehealth has the potential to save lives,” Conroy said. “Through high-speed broadband, people in remote areas can get speedy healthcare and clinical attention when they need it. It also removes the burden of travel, helping patients stay in their communities and potentially recover faster.

“Interactive online education and training programs have also been implemented to give students and trainees access to mainstream health education programs that are currently only available to students in larger cities,” Conroy added.

The program will benefit the indigenous population and others living in remote parts of the NT, said Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon. “Thousands of people live in remote communities and through telehealth services, like Health eTowns, they will be able to access better care, specialists and more health information closer to home.”

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