Dispatch: Australian Telehealth Conference

Mollie Sullivan, Director   October 2012


On 29th August 2012, Matthew Purtell and I attended the first day of the Australian Telehealth Conference, which was sponsored by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing and the Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy.

During the first Plenary Session, Dr C. Martin Harris, who is the CEO for the Cleveland Clinic in the USA, presented his findings in the use of telehealth the enable “patient centric care”. He talked about the need to apply “meaningful use criteria” to assess the degree to which new e-health systems are being effectively used to meet clients’ care needs. Dr Harris highlighted a number of key learnings, which have been summarised below to show how they align with the functionality of The Carers’ Phone.


Real time decision support for clinicians

The value of alerts to signal a need for a referral or review was highlighted. The Carers’ Phone provides real time monitoring data and prompts Case Managers to select an appropriate response.


Importance of maintaining coordination for people with chronic care needs

The Carers’ Phone includes a Quick Guide for Case Managers and a Learning Package for support staff to ensure that all team members are aware of communication processes to make certain the client’s care package is well coordinated.


The main focus is practice change

This theme came through in a number of the conference presentations. Speakers emphasised the need to engage care teams in a change process to make effective use of telehealth innovations. Implementing The Carers’ Phone involves a real change in the way support teams work together. It is important that all staff are engaged in recording the outcomes and suggesting care improvements.

Telecare is mostly about practice improvement. The technology is important but it is not an “end in itself”. The Carers’ Phone, like other telecare innovations, is primarily a springboard for “better care”.

You can access slides presented at the conference here: http://www.hisa.org.au/page/telehealth2012slides

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