New research shows the nbn™ network is linking regional Australians to eHealth, bridging the digital divide between country and city.
Conducted on behalf of the nbn by independent researchers Evolve Research, the nbn™ Broadband Index is a survey of more than 10,000 Australians. It reveals how Australians are using broadband for health reasons, among other many other social and economic benefits.
It shows people in both metro and regional areas are using the internet to better access health advice from home and work, cutting travel time.
Regional Australians are increasingly likely to use their nbn™ connection to manage their health condition with the help of remote access to city specialists, book an appointment with a specialist, or to look up general wellbeing information.
The study found five per cent of consumers surveyed nationally have consulted a health practitioner online.
Meanwhile, regional Australians were more likely than metro Australians to:
- seek information online because of a perception there was no suitable health provider or specialist locally
- have a condition requiring a regular scheduled consultation with a medical professional (22 per cent more likely than city counterparts)
- look up symptoms for a condition online say they’d engaged with professionals online, booked appointments, accessed health and wellbeing programs and electronic records because of access to better internet.
The nbn™ Broadband Index confirmed regional Australians are using the internet more than neighbours not yet connected to the nbn™ network.
Following a serious accident last year, Jan Hendry from the South-West region of Western Australia has had to become very familiar with eHealth.
“I was working in the garden, using the mulcher when my hand was accidently dragged in. It all happened very quickly and I was lucky but I unfortunately lost all of my fingers on my right hand,” Jan said.
“I’ve had numerous operations over the past eight months and I have been undergoing intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy to get my hand functioning again.
“nbn has made it possible to have multiple eHealth consultations with various doctors and disease control experts as I had to be very careful of infection. These specialists needed access to close up photos and videos of my hand so a fast and reliable internet connection was crucial.”
The benefits of eHealth are being experienced daily by Launceston-based Consultant Physician Dr Terry Hannan:
“eHealth is gaining ground as a reliable and sought-after tool for medical professionals and patients to deliver treatment, education and prevention.
“Regional patients certainly benefit, but it is also of great value in urban areas for those with limited mobility and carers of the cognitively impaired elderly.
“I can now see patients daily from many country locations and help them manage chronic conditions. I have also used this from international locations back into Australia.
“Increasingly, patients in remote locations are using the nbn or will soon be able to use it.
“Without eHealth, patients often encounter reduced or delayed access to care with the costly logistics of travel and communication with health care facilities.
“A reliable, fast broadband connection is becoming a vital medical tool to support doctors, nurses, pharmacists, allied health and most importantly patients.”
nbn spokesperson, Russell Kelly, said:
“It is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – and the internet can provide a wealth of information and support for rebooting your life in the New Year.
“The nbn Broadband Index findings show the enormous positive benefit of the nbn for regional Australia.”
About Jan Hendry
Jan is a busy mother of three grown-up children who lives in Gelorup south of Bunbury in Western Australia. She loves to spend as much time as possible in her large garden surrounding the house. Jan also loves her chooks that live luxuriously in their pens near the vegetable garden.
Since the accident, Jan is now learning to write left handed and will ultimately make it her dominant hand.
About Dr Terry Hannan: MBBS;FRACP;FACHI;FACMI
Consultant Physician – Clinical Associate Professor School of Human Health Sciences, University of Tasmania Department of Medicine. Visiting Fellow, Centre for Health Informatics, Macquarie University, Sydney. Moderator for Global health Delivery Online
*Dr Hannan has experience working in eHealth in Australia and internationally. One of the projects he is associated with has successfully provided eHealth-based access to treatment, education and prevention to more than five million people in sub-Saharan Africa living with AIDS-related diseases and other health issues.
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