With the approaching tsunami of ageing people and the increase in the number of people with chronic diseases we need to find smarter ways to manage the health needs of Australians.  In response to the looming demand for care we see the rapid adaptation of existing medical devices, and development of new applications for monitoring and treating health conditions in the home, that can respond to this demand.  The time is right for Australia to develop a telehealth policy that integrates utilisation of the wide range of technologies that fall under the telehealth umbrella, to deliver healthcare in a structured, innovative and cost effective way.

The need for a comprehensive telehealth policy for Australia

  • Dozens of Australian pilots have proven the efficacy of telehealth
  • Hundreds of published studies have demonstrated the clinical benefits of telehealth in large, international populations
  • There is growing evidence to support cost neutrality and cost effectiveness of telehealth 
  • There is no broad-based comprehensive policy that facilitates equitable patient access to telehealth services (including assistive technologies, vital signs monitoring and remote patient monitoring) 
  • Multiple groups/committees/networks are pushing the same agenda.


Australia is facing an increase in the demand for hospital and aged care services and healthcare staff.  A wide range of medical devices have wireless capabilities and can be used to monitor patients in their homes.  The conditions most suitable for home monitoring include many of those which are more prevalent with age, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Telehealth is the delivery of medical services through information technology and telecommunications.  It is an overarching definition that includes remote monitoring or the exchange of medical data between a patient who is at home and a healthcare professional based (usually) in a medical centre or call centre.  A number of surgically implanted devices can be monitored remotely for clinical or device assessment (e.g. pacemakers).  Remote monitoring is particularly well-suited to Australia which has approximately one-third of the population living in rural and remote areas.

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