Spatial Distribution of Telehealth Network and Its Prospect in the New National Network
Le, Q and Chiu, C, Spatial Distribution of Telehealth Network and Its Prospect in the New National Network, SFT-09 Conference Proceedings, 10-11 November 2009, Brisbane, pp. 124-129. (2009) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]
Given the increasing demand for health care in Australia, there are not enough health workers to take care of the population particularly in rural and remote areas. As a result, various initiatives and strategies are being developed to support health care in regional areas. Telehealth or telemedicine, which adopts various telecommunications solutions to link up clinicians with patients or patient related information held elsewhere, is recognised as a means to improve the quality and efficiency of health services delivery at a distance.
Recently, the Australian Government has announced that Tasmania will be the launch state for the Commonwealth's new super fast National Broadband Network which will deliver speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, connecting over 200,000 Tasmanian households and businesses including hospitals and schools. It is expected that health service provision in Tasmania, especially the telehealth network, will change in view of these specific circumstances. Tasmania is a state worthy of study in its own right because of its peculiar geographic and demographic characteristics from other Australian regions.
This paper examines the spatial distribution of telehealth network availability and broadband usage in Tasmania and investigates their relationships with Tasmanian population data and socio-economic status using Geographical Information System (GIS). The geographic analysis will provide better insights into the understanding of the reasons for health services utilisation. These insights are helpful to the planning of health services and health care systems to meet future needs of different communities. Implications for modelling and strategies to improve telehealth services in local areas of Tasmania will be examined in the current context as well as in the future context in which the Commonwealth's new super fast National Broadband Network will be introduced.