Australia's famously harsh outback is an unforgiving place. To survive and prosper in such an environment requires more than just grit and self-reliance - it requires innovation. The Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air are just two of the famous Australian innovations that have helped to overcome the vast distances and support rural and remote communities.
Digital health technologies are now bringing a new generation of innovations to the outback, supporting the development of services that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. As psychiatrist Dr Ken Feilke puts it, access to high level healthcare shouldn't depend on the postcode where people live.
Awabakal Medical Service
Telehealth is proving to be a boon to rural and remote communities, as it enables specialist consultations without the need to drive or fly huge distances. Di Thornton, Director of Nursing at Pinnaroo Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, says telehealth is a life-saving technology, because it makes emergency specialist consultations possible.
Other applications of digital health technologies include the Awabakal Medical Service's innovative GP outreach service, which replaced their paper-based records – transported in plastic boxes – with electronic records. Having a digital system means the GPs now have instant access to patient files. More innovations will undoubtedly arise, further improving the delivery of healthcare services to those communities that have been hard to reach in the past.
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Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may be distressed by seeing the name, or image of a community member who has passed away.
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