Telehealth: A Game Changer - Closing the Gap in Remote Indigenous Health in Three Remote Homeland Communities in the Laynhapuy Homelands, East Arnhem, Northern Australia

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018;252:132-138.


Benefits of telehealth have been demonstrated both internationally and through local assessments. Early diagnosis and treatment, reduced costs associated with patient travel, minimized time spent away from community and providing improved patient and staff satisfaction are key drivers for using telehealth. Uptake of telehealth in the NT has been limited, for a variety of reasons including inadequate broadband access. Through collaboration between stakeholders, high-end satellites have been deployed in three very remote clinics, uncontended internet provided and telehealth successfully implemented. Face-to-face consultation via video-conferencing, direct supervision and observation of patient examinations, showing patients and families pictures and videos from the internet allowing the supervising GP to demonstrate clearly what the problem is and the treatment required and the use of remote diagnostic systems for patient assessment in acute care is a "game changer" in remote Indigenous health service delivery. Early identification and decision making of malignancies can facilitate earlier intervention with better prognosis for the patient. Through collaboration, this program has demonstrated the value of uncontended and unlimited internet access in implementing telehealth. The question was: Is high quality internet required to improve service delivery? The service recognises the value and now relies heavily on this service and is committed to improving connectivity and implementing telehealth in more of their communities.

Keywords: Laynhapuy Homelands; Remote Primary Health; Remote Telecommunications; Telehealth; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Health Services, Indigenous
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • Needs Assessment
  • Telemedicine*
  • Videoconferencing*