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Health services that would usually cost hundreds of dollars and hours in travel are now just a click away for the many rural patients requiring specialist appointments.

Telehealth is fast capturing the attention of rural communities, connecting patients with specialists hundreds of kilometres away via a Skype-like system.

The technology means patients' travel costs are dramatically reduced and, in some cases, eliminated.

The interest in telehealth services at Biloela Hospital has dramatically increased since the beginning of the year.

It is proving so effective, the hospital is looking to expand the scope of services offered through telehealth.

"People are utilising telehealth because the community are becoming aware that it's available," telehealth nurse Rebecca Barnes said.

"A lot of rural folk can't get to appointments in Rockhampton or Brisbane because it's just too hard, so telehealth is at ease with fitting into people's lives."

Mrs Barnes said the interest in telehealth in the Biloela and surrounding communities had risen so much a full-time telehealth nurse position had been created.

"We've seen three times as many telehealth patients this year since its commencement in July 2014," she said.

"Numbers have increased dramatically but we want to keep going, we want to increase the bandwidth and increase the network capacity.

"We are looking at working out what the community needs instead of just providing ad hoc generic services.

"There is most definitely room for growth - it's in its infancy and it's progressive."

The Biloela and surrounding rural communities have welcomed the internet-based health service with open arms.

"From my feedback it appears everybody is happy with the telehealth service," Mrs Barnes said.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Emma Clarke

Quelle/Source: Central Telegraph, 26.04.2015

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