NBN first release sites to trial telehealth

Two of the first mainland release sites under the National Broadband Network (NBN) will receive telehealth monitoring units in coming months, as part of a $4 million trial conducted by NSW Health.

As part of the trial, telehealth monitoring units and videoconferencing systems will be installed in homes and primary healthcare clinics of veterans with chronic diseases and those aged over 65 in the sites of Armidale and Kiama Downs. Under the rollout of the NBN, each of the sites are expected to encompass up to 6000 premises connected to speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps).

The federally funded project was announced by communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, this week at an e-health conference hosted by the Department of Health and Ageing and is expected to determine the benefits of greater bandwidth afforded by the NBN for telehealth and other e-health systems.

"These trials lay a clear pathway for long-term systemic adoption of telehealth in the delivery of aged care," he said.

"I'm really relieved and proud that the NBN will help people stay at home, as they clearly want to, while also reducing the size of projected increases in our healthcare budget."

During his announcement, Conroy urged broadband and particularly the NBN's capability to ensure better e-health systems while becoming a solution to hurdles such as poor distribution of healthcare workers across remote and rural Australia and the rising costs of aged care.