Stephen Conroy, Federal Communications Minister, offered an amount of $60 million in funding for new remote and rural health, emergency response and education projects that will be rolled out on the back of the national broadband network. E-Health ‘innovators’ have been invited by Senator Conroy to provide expressions of interest for projects, that are to begin in early 2010 as part of the government’s Digital Regions Initiative. It was reported by Senator Conroy that in-home care would be a key means of dealing with the challenges of an ageing population that expected independence, with PricewaterhouseCoopers estimating 20 % of over 75-year-olds would benefit from such assistance supported by broadband to the home.
The statistics are based on Access Economics-IBM research released a few months ago. Senator Conroy said it was also worth noting the views of iSoft, ‘the world’s second biggest health software provider,’ that the NBN could pay for itself twice over thanks to the e-health benefits. In a presentation which included a live demonstration of an Intel home diagnostics and support service, Senator Conroy referred to a raft of new health ICT developments including HealthCube, an aged care platform that allows care workers to share patient information and treatment plans. Successes were also emerging from projects funded under the Clever Networks program. In Victoria, the Loddon Mallee Virtual Trauma and Critical Care unit has been live since March, linking injured patients to specialist doctors in Melbourne; the system gives doctors instant access to a patient’s vital signs, high-quality digital images and video for immediate consultation with doctors on the spot.