Telehealth is the practice of assessing patients remotely using video conferencing, digital photography, instant messaging or other technology, that enables people and their health professionals to meet, no matter where they are located. This is based upon the Digital Health CRC definition.
Although telehealth has been in use for a long time, COVID-19 has increased the uptake for health related care. Now, millions of Australians have quite quickly been exposed to healthcare by phone, video, text, email or via the internet.
This telehealth information page includes:
- Links to key organisations that provide extensive information and training tools related to telehealth and virtual health
- Links to information regarding legal standards and considerations
- Exemplars – Monash Partners, Victorian, Australian and International exemplars
- A listing of systematic review papers and reports related to telehealth.
Telehealth dedicated websites
The following websites are dedicated to telehealth. Topic areas covered within them include:
- Consumer aspects
- Healthcare professionals
- Legal considerations
This website includes a range of resources that have been shared and recommended by members of Australia’s health community.
This website has released some quick guides to telehealth for practitioners and patients.
The Australasian Telehealth Society (ATHS) was formed in 2008 to fill a long-felt need to create a forum for all of those involved in telehealth in Australia and New Zealand. It is the National Member for Australia and New Zealand of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH).
Telehealth is seen by ACRRM as an essential component of effective rural and remote practice.
This website provides telehealth information related to interpreters.
Further telehealth resources
Below are resources that you will find helpful on your telehealth journey. We have collated relevant legal considerations, Australian and International exemplars and publications to assist with your learnings.
1.The Australian Government’s web conferencing security page states the following:
“Web conferencing solutions (also commonly referred to as online collaboration tools) often provide audio/video conferencing, real-time chat, desktop sharing and file transfer capabilities. As we increasingly use web conferencing to keep in touch while working from home, it is important to ensure that this is done securely without introducing unnecessary privacy, security and legal risks. This document provides guidance on both how to select a web conferencing solution and how to use it securely.”
2.The DHHS “COVID-19 Telehealth Consulting and Conferencing: Privacy and Security” document states the following:
“In response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and consequent risk of transmission from face-to-face consultations, there is an increasing demand to provide services via real time video for consumer or client engagement. Telehealth video consulting is used by consumers or clients and care providers if they are unable to meet face-to-face. Video conferencing is also used by healthcare providers for online meetings, continuing professional development and training and to collaborate by using screen share, chat online and file sharing functions. It is more suitable for medium to large groups but can also be used for one-on-one meetings. Online meetings introduce privacy and security risks for attendees and organisations, as sensitive information is often shared through video or audio. Unauthorised or uninvited persons may access your call. Please follow the guiding rules developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) to protect the security and privacy of your sessions.”
3.The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) works with the 15 National Boards to help protect the public by regulating Australia's registered health practitioners.
They state that the use of telehealth in health practice may be subject to additional requirements. They encourage health professionals to seek advice from their professional association, insurer or employer if they have further questions about the use of telehealth.
They have developed information which outlines the expectations of how registered health practitioners will use telehealth.
4.The Digital Health CRC provide a centralised source for links to most relevant Australian information. They state that:
“Telehealth consultations follow the same standards as face-to-face consultations. This means complying with privacy legislation and the standards of practice that have been set by the peak professional regulatory bodies both in your state or territory, and nationally.”
5.The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) Standards Framework provides a guide to understanding a range of issues relating to deployment and use of telehealth products and services based on video consultations.
They took a three-dimensional approach to defining a framework for decision making and implementation around the following aspects:
- The first dimension covers technical aspects, including software and hardware components.
- The second dimension covers clinical usage aspects, including both supporting the clinical process and considerations of appropriate use for the given case.
- The third dimension involves the health services context within which the videoconferencing activity occurs, and how the related requirements are handled.