Things about technology

Technology is critical to support telehealth in several ways. First, to enable interpersonal communications (voice, written, images, live or store-and-forward); and second, to enable coherent record keeping, information transfer (including confidential patient records) and the overall integrity of health care.

Telehealth is used to complement the traditional face-to-face delivery of health services. Growing numbers of health providers have introduced telehealth services during the current Global Health Emergency. For many, it is likely that telehealth will continue to play an important role in their practice in the future.

In response to COVID-19, governments worldwide have relaxed the restrictions on the technology that clinicians can use to perform a telehealth consultation. This buys time for clinical service providers to select a telehealth platform they can use in the longer term which will have the potential to incorporate the digital technology that will best serve their future needs.

The digital health market in Australia is changing rapidly, and there is an overwhelming array of technology that can be used in telehealth practice. The resources below are not intended to be used as a shopping list. The tools and essential glossaries below are designed as a gateway to the world of digital health.

Tips on choosing technology

  • Don’t pick before deciding what you want the technology to do (sort out the workflow first)
  • Do your research before deciding on the technology platform
  • Speak to your existing vendor (some may have a solution that you may just be able to turn on)
  • Free solutions are acceptable in the short term but make sure privacy and security standards are met

Data security concepts and entry reading

These short descriptions of key concepts, plus links to readings, will get you up to speed fast.

This background knowledge will help you to make informed decisions on choosing the right technology for your telehealth service.

Setting up the technology for telehealth

Chances are, you won’t be starting from scratch. Your practice or hospital is probably already using an electronic record management system that is integrated with an appointment booking software.

Aim to integrate telehealth into your existing workflows – this could cover anything from recording a new patient, booking appointments, coding diagnoses, to arranging referrals and managing results and recalls. We propose six steps for you to:

a) start integrating telehealth into your day to day practice, and/or

b) use an established telehealth platform to host other digital health technology, for seamless care to your patients or clients.

Technology to support telehealth

Technology is changing fast.

These three useful Australian resources give comprehensive coverage of the available technology in the market: Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) Technology Directory; the Digital Health Guide (subscription); and the PULSE+IT: Technology resources for COVID-19.

On this page you will also find further information on video conference technology, and the hot topic of Zoom security.