Monash University project to improve telehealth for mental health and palliative care services

A new project in the Australian state of Victoria aims to improve the telehealth capacities of mental health and palliative care services.

Researchers at Monash University have received Australian $ 2 million ($ 1.4 million) in funding from the federally-supported Digital Health Cooperative Research Center (DHCRC) for its Telehealth Capacity Improvement Project.

The project will be led by the university’s IT faculty and supported by affiliates, Monash Health, University of Melbourne, Healthdirect Australia and the Victoria Department of Health.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

With more than 16 million Australians accessing health services remotely since the start of the pandemic, it has become essential for telehealth to be robust, especially for those in areas inaccessible to large hospitals, said Rahina Hoda, Associate Professor of Computer Science in the Faculty of Computer Science at Monash University and Project Leader. .

Working closely with patients, caregivers and physicians, researchers will develop “user-centric and research-based” software solutions that will enhance telehealth capabilities, such as real-time transcription, integration personal diagnostic data of medical devices and accessibility. for the elderly and Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The goal, according to Hoda, is to augment current web-based video telehealth services to create “more streamlined and reliable systems while maintaining the privacy of all users involved.”

Peter Poon, project collaborator and director of supportive and palliative care at Monash Health, also pointed out that the project is beneficial for palliative care patients and their caregivers who have difficulty accessing an in-person consultation.

The research team will work with the national public telehealth provider Healthdirect Australia, who will later make the next telehealth solutions available to clinics in Victoria via the Healthdirect Australia video call.

THE BROADER CONTEXT

The Australian government is investing A $ 106 million ($ 76 million) over the next four years for telehealth. “permanent “in the country to ensure flexibility in the delivery of health care and the continued provision of health consultations by phone or online. However, earlier this month, he imposed changes to the Medicare benefit schedule for telehealth articles, including the removal of 128 articles, which some health officials have warned would have major consequences for patients.

In addition, the DHCRC recently funded a project that will provide real-time patient data via Dashboards. The A $ 2.1 million ($ 1.5 million) project is also led by Monash University and is expected to deliver solutions by 2025.

ON THE RECORD

“Our investment will provide real-world mental health services delivering enhanced patient experiences and outcomes in Victoria while also laying the foundation for the telehealth services developed so that they can seamlessly evolve and be adopted beyond Victoria. and palliative care; nationally and globally, ”Dr. Stefan Harrer, Director of Innovation at DHCRC, said.

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