Practical aspects of telehealth: establishing telehealth in an institution

Intern Med J. 2014 Feb;44(2):202-5. doi: 10.1111/imj.12339.


The fifth in a series of papers on practical aspects of telehealth, this paper discusses telehealth models that can facilitate the provision of specialist services to rural and remote patients closer to home. Some of the barriers to successful implementation of these models relates to workforce, funding and infrastructure at rural sites, as well as the traditional mindset of healthcare professionals. Therefore, the rural sector needs to be adequately resourced for telehealth models to be substantive and successful. This paper describes the development of a large teleoncology network over a vast geographical area in North Queensland. Adequate resourcing for the rural sites and undertaking quality improvement activities has continually enhanced the model over a 5- to 6-year period. The benefits of this model of care are twofold: (i) patients received their care closer to home and (ii) the workforce, service capabilities and infrastructure for the hospital in Mt Isa (a rural town 900 km away from its tertiary centre) has improved.

Keywords: Townsville Teleoncology Network; telehealth; telemedicine; teleoncology; video consultation.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Models, Organizational
  • Oncology Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Patient Preference
  • Quality Improvement
  • Queensland
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Rural Population
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • Telemedicine* / organization & administration