The Queensland Government has announced it has significantly increased capacity within its telehealth services network, enabling more patients to consult a doctor from their homes.
It is hoped the extra capacity will reduce pressure on healthcare professionals within Queensland’s hospital system currently facing a likely surge of Covid-19 cases.
Queensland Minister for Health, Steven Miles said the expanded telehealth capacity will help to ease the excess burden placed on the state’s healthcare system.
Upwards of 1,600 end-users will now be able to connect to the telehealth network at one time, a nearly 18-fold increase in simultaneous end-users (prior to upgrade, only 90 patients could access telehealth services through the network at one time).
The expanded teleservice network would also allow more staff in remote areas to respond to calls as and where needed, Miles added.
The state’s telehealth program is managed by Queensland Health, which represents one of the largest managed telehealth networks in Australia – little surprise given the state’s vast geographic expanse. At present, videoconferencing systems are available in more than 200 hospitals and community facilities across the state.
Additionally, Queensland Health has increased staff numbers now able to work from home. Healthcare professionals can now access all existing corporate and clinical applications remotely, with the system supporting up to 48,000 users at any one time.
Queensland’s telehealth services are integrated within the hospital and health services and a number of external providers via a dedicated Telehealth Portal.
This portal supports videoconferencing with doctors or health professionals using either a desktop web browser or tablet/smartphone.
Queensland Health’s Telehealth Support Unit manages the telehealth services together with the Clinical Excellence Division. This division partners with health services, clinicians, and consumers to deliver fully integrated healthcare.
Queensland’s telehealth program was initially launched for patients living in rural and remote areas, allowing them to see their specialist without having to leave their local communities.
Videoconferencing has also enabled families to stay connected with long-stay patients that were at a hospital away from their hometown.
The Queensland Government has also increased network bandwidth within healthcare facilities from 1.5 gigabits per second to seven gigabits, allowing for a future increase to 10Gb/s in the short term if required.
Latest information on novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is available on Queensland Health’s website.