$5 Million To Help Ensure Quality And Safety Of Telehealth

Department of Health

The Albanese Government is helping ensure the quality and safety of telehealth, with $5 million worth of research into how telehealth can achieve positive health outcomes for Australians.

Six projects from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT will share in over $5 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), to identify how telehealth can be used most effectively and appropriately.

Before COVID, telehealth was not very common in Australia. In 2019, between April and June, telehealth accounted for just 1 out of 2,000 Medicare services delivered. Just one year later in 2022, telehealth accounted for 330 out of 2,000 Medicare services, and 620 out of 2,000 GP-specific Medicare services.

Telehealth has continued to be a feature of the health system, even as the era of COVID lockdowns receded. One in 4 Australians had at least one telehealth consultation in the last financial year.

The six research projects funded by the NHRMC will each receive close to $1 million to develop a solid evidence-base that can inform future health policy on telehealth, while supporting health practitioners and service providers enhance their current telehealth services.

Professor Jonathon Karnon of Flinders University will lead a collaborative project aiming to improve the design and application of virtual emergency department services in Australia.

Professor Meredith Makeham and team from the University of Sydney will explore the safety, quality, acceptability, and sustainability of using telehealth to provide care to people living in residential aged care.

James Cook University researcher Professor Sarah Larkins will investigate the experience of telehealth providers and patients in North Queensland, to optimise health service access, quality and safety in rural and remote Australia.

See the full list of outcomes on NHMRC’s website.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“The expansion of telehealth services , during the early days of COVID, has been described as ’10 years of change in 10 days’ and that is not an exaggeration.

“Telehealth has become a permanent feature of the health system today, as both patients and providers enjoy its convenience and potential to remove the tyranny of distance that has sometimes made health service delivery so challenging for rural and remote Australia, in particular.

“The Albanese Government is committed to unlocking telehealth’s potential, while also ensuring its safety and quality for patients. These six research projects will help point the way to better telehealth.”

Quotes attributable to NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh:

“Targeted Calls for Research support researchers to address specific health issues or topics that would benefit from further health and medical research.

“Ensuring the quality and safety of Australia’s national telehealth services through targeted projects, such as those announced today, will help to optimise and future-proof the system.

“These projects will be able to provide us with a strong evidence base for telehealth services, and how they can be optimised to provide significant improvements to health at both an individual and population level.”

/Media Release. View in full here.