'Digital telehealth' is a general term, describing the remote delivery of health services via video and telecommunications technologies.
The SA Digital Telehealth Network provides the technology for clinicians and consumers to communicate face-to-face from different locations. Remote patients are able to receive health services conveniently, reducing time and travel requirements.
The SA Digital Telehealth Network greatly improves patient access to a range of clinical services, otherwise not offered in their locality. Country patients now have better access to metro-based specialist services from their local hospital or health centre; and the list of specialties is increasing.
Services using telehealth
The SA Digital Telehealth Network was initially implemented by the Country Health SA Local Health Network to facilitate remote mental health service consultations. To date, the Network has significantly expanded, with over 220 video conferencing units situated in SA country and metropolitan health sites. See the Video conferencing with Cisco Spark page for more information.
The Network is now used to deliver of a range of healthcare services across SA Health, including:
- mental health
- medical oncology
- radiation oncology
- burns support
- renal services
- allied health
- pain assessment
- spinal assessment
- emergency retrieval
- afterhours GP support for emergency departments.
In 2016, the SA Digital Telehealth Network was used for over 7,000 clinical consumer encounters and over 24,000 video conferences were held, including clinical, operational, training and administrative communication.
Privacy, confidentiality and consent
Similar to any normal face-to-face consultation with a health professional, private or sensitive treatment issues can be discussed during a video conference consultation. Privacy and confidentially are maintained at all times.
Additional staff are not permitted in consultation rooms without patient consent, and consultations are not recorded. If you do not consent to using telehealth for accessing your health services, please speak to your local SA Health professional for more information.
Medicare Benefits Schedule
Specialist telehealth consultations may be bulk-billed to Medicare if you are from an eligible remote area (RA 2 to 5), and more than 15km away from your nearest provider. See the Doctor Connect site to determine your eligibility.
For more information about the Medicare Benefits Schedule and telehealth, see the Department of Human Services website.
Telehealth allows GPs and other health professionals to conveniently provide services and patient consultations via video conferencing.
Rural GPs can use the SA Digital Telehealth Network locally from a country location when consulting with a public health specialist to support care delivery to public health consumers. Alternatively, rural GPs can use a privately procured internet connection and a standards-based software application to link to the Digital Telehealth Network.
For more information see the Telehealth frequently asked questions for GPs.
Other uses for the telehealth
Some of the other uses of the Digital Telehealth Network by SA Health include:
- provision of after-hours clinical support to country health services and GPs in high demand
- state-wide clinical collaboration in metropolitan health sites, Local and Country Health Networks
- training and education of clinical staff.
The SA Digital Telehealth Network is making a significant difference to South Australians by delivering remote clinical services closer to home.
For further information on the Digital Telehealth Network, email HealthSADigitalTelehealthNetwork@sa.gov.au or refer to the following web pages: