Monash University project to improve telecare for mental health and palliative care

A new project in the Australian state of Victoria aims to improve the telehealth capabilities of mental health and palliative care.

Monash University researchers have received A$2 million ($1.4 million) in funding from the federally supported Digital Health Cooperative Research Center (DHCRC) for its Enhanced Telehealth Capabilities project.

The project will be led by the University’s Faculty of Information Technology and supported by affiliates, Monash Health, University of Melbourne, Healthdirect Australia and Victoria’s Department of Health.

WHY IT MATTER

With more than 16 million Australians having remote access to health services since the start of the pandemic, it has become essential that telehealth is robust, especially for those in areas inaccessible to major hospitals, said Rahina Hoda, an associate professor of IT at the University of Groningen. Monash University and project leader.

Working closely with patients, healthcare providers and physicians, the researchers will develop “user-centric and research-based” software solutions that will enhance telehealth capabilities such as real-time transcription, integration of personal diagnostic data from medical devices, and accessibility for the elderly and Australians from cultural and linguistically diverse communities.

The goal, according to Hoda, is to expand current web-based video telehealth services to “create more streamlined and reliable systems while preserving the privacy of all users involved.”

Peter Poon, project associate and director of supportive and palliative care at Monash Health, also emphasized that the project is beneficial for palliative care patients and their caregivers who struggle with face-to-face consultation.

The research team will work with national public telehealth provider Healthdirect Australia, who will later make the future telehealth solutions available to clinics in Victoria via the Healthdirect Australia Video Call.

THE GREATER CONTEXT

The Australian government is investing A$106 million ($76 million) over the next four years to make telehealth services »permanent” in the country to ensure flexibility in health care delivery and the continuous delivery of health consultations over the phone or online. Earlier this month, however, it forced changes to the Medicare Benefits schedule for telehealth items, including the termination of 128 articles, which some health care leaders warned, would have major implications for patients.

In other news, the DHCRC recently funded a project that will provide real-time patient data through: dashboard. The A$2.1 million ($1.5 million) project is also led by Monash University and is expected to deliver solutions by 2025.

ON THE REGISTRATION

“Our investment will deliver true mental health services that deliver improved patient experiences and outcomes in Victoria, while also laying the foundation for the telehealth services developed to scale seamlessly and be adopted beyond Victoria and palliative care; nationally and globally,” Dr. Stefan Harrer, Chief Innovation Officer at DHCRC, stated.

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