In 2011 MEDNET AUSTRALIA began exploring options of video-conferencing to add to the options available to facilitate training, especially of those members in remote locations.
In this regard we have considered most widely available and affordable methods.
We initially tested SKYPE and IChat (later to become FaceTime ) and found Skype to be most useful in education sessions but the use of this was minimal as we reduced our educational component in favour of provision of videoconferencing for delivering telehealth.
In 2012-2013 we explored ways to facilitate a Telehealth Platform within our service and initially used the Telepsychiatry item numbers. This method was quite cumbersome as it was heavily regulated making it difficult to provide flexible services to patients.
When Telehealth item numbers were introduced with incentives to encourage GPs and Specialists to collaborate, we switched to this method of funding and have increased our Telehealth Services.
We were able to move our offices from Sunbury to East Keilor in 2013 because we were able to provide Telehealth services to rural patients. Through 2014-15 we have endeavoured to explore technology outside of Skype and FaceTime as modes of delivery of Telehealth. A more recent review has indicated to us that Skype is no longer a viable option for providing Telehealth Service as it would not be compliant with HIPAA standards and would not meat the standard of the Australian Privacy Principles.
With regard to Platforms available for VideoConferencing, the options have grown exponentially in the past 12-18 months. We have reviewed 6 platforms including Skype and FaceTime:
|Having reviewed these platforms we favour the latter three given their level of privacy and flexibility which would make them good candidates to be compliant with legislation and also provide us with multiple options outside of generic Telehealth sessions with individual patients (including Group Sessions and Medical/Health Professional Education)