Telehealth is the use of information and communication technologies to deliver health care when patients and care providers are not in the same physical location. For example, illnesses can be diagnosed and treatment provided via secure video conference.
To be effective, telehealth relies on fast broadband internet services. Health care-related education, research and evaluation can also take place using telehealth.
- For patients: Faster access to care and shorter wait times. Remote patients can remain close to home, making consultations more convenient and reducing travel
- DHBs: Fairer health system because of better access to care. More educational options for DHB staff via specialist video training
- Specialists/consultants: Less time spent travelling for consultations. Greater control over scheduling. Closer working relationship between specialists and primary care
- Aged care workers/nurses: Reduced need to transfer older patients. Increases nurses' knowledge through more exposure to specialist consultations
- General practitioners: GPs who serve rural health facilities need to travel less frequently. Store and forward allows for accessible referrals and second opinions
- Allied health workers: Rehabilitation and physiotherapy can take place via videoconference, meaning less time and budget spent on travel.
For guidance and resources to set up or improve a telehealth service see the New Zealand Telehealth Resource Centre.
The New Zealand Telehealth Forum promotes the use of telehealth in the provision of health care. It is led by a leadership group that includes clinicians, consumers, policy makers, planning and funding managers, ICT experts and industry representatives.