MUL multiemedia limited

getting customers...no problem.

  1. 5,447 Posts.

    Bush broadband hurts healthcare
    Karen Dearne
    AUGUST 12, 2003

    TELSTRA's stance on broadband is bleeding millions of dollars from the healthcare system and putting lives at risk, country GP and IT expert Horst Herb says.

    "Connectivity is the number-one concern for doctors today," Dr Herb told the General Practice Computing Group Forum in Sydney last weekend.
    "Thirty per cent of Australians live in rural and regional areas that basically have no connectivity other than phone lines. The situation is scandalous."

    Dr Herb, who practices at Cohuna in regional Victoria, says that every second day a patient is sent "down the mountain" by ambulance, at a cost of $3500 a trip.

    "When we looked at the situation, we found that roughly half of these trips could have been avoided if we'd had some means of consulting with a specialist via videoconferencing," he said.

    "We desperately want to do telehealth, but we are dealing with a company that knows it can make a $5 billion profit by denying its customers a service."

    Dr Herb, who ran a software business in Germany for 12 years before switching to medicine, is well-known as an open source advocate.

    In his spare time, he co-ordinates several free medical software projects including GNUmed, drugref and GNOtary. But until all healthcare providers have actual and affordable access to the internet, improved patient care and more efficient use of resources will remain a pipe-dream, he said.

    "More than 90 per cent of GPs now use a computer, but if we have no connectivity, we won't have any meaningful health IT," he said.

    "Isolated use of a computer is fairly pointless.

    "It may make life easier for the person doing the numbers, but all the major applications in health IT that might improve outcomes and save money very much depend on exchanging information."

    Dr Herb said Telstra had demonstrated its lack of interest when talking to doctors about communications problems in regional areas -- and even in the city and suburbs,

    Telstra had dispatched "a marketing boy" to a high-level working group of medical and IT professionals in Canberra last month who had fled the room "in unordered retreat when faced with a few hard questions".

    The group concluded that a reliable, always-on internet capability of at least 256Kbps for every healthcare provider in the country should be achievable within one year.

    "This is do-able," Dr Herb said. Extending the universal service obligation on telcos to provide nationwide broadband access should be achievable within three years, the working group found.


 
arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch. arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch.