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Monday 3 May 2021 | 4 min read

Three ways connectivity is shaping Australian healthcare

Graphic art using a photo of a surgeon holding what looks like a futuristic hologram of a brain scan

The healthcare industry is rapidly digitising.

While the pandemic has exacerbated this trend, it would be remiss to assume the various lockdowns around the country are the only factors fuelling healthcare’s growing reliance on connectivity.

Technology and healthcare have always worked in tandem to improve not only patient outcomes, but the wellbeing of whole communities. The increasing accessibility of quality connectivity options in Australia – such as the nbn™ network – is another major factor propelling healthcare towards connectivity-related innovation.

Three connectivity trends in healthcare

1- Telehealth

While rural and remote communities were leveraging the benefits of telehealth well before Covid19, many healthcare providers in cities and regional hubs are now employing telehealth technology on a regular basis – even after lockdowns around the country have mostly subsided.

Telehealth removes geographic barriers, allowing patients to access certain types of medical care regardless of where they are located. According to the federal government, Australians had more than 30 million telehealth consultations in 2020. In addition to lockdowns, this growth could be attributed to the introduction of 283 new Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth items.

Plus, it’s looking like telehealth is here to stay – speaking to a press conference in November last year, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said universal, whole-of-population telehealth would “be permanent”. Another study, published in June, 2020, found that two thirds of respondents who had used telehealth services during the lockdown would continue using them into the future.

Due to Australia’s vast geography, it’s likely telehealth and other similar technologies will continue to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities all over the country.

2 – The 5G network

While 5G is still in its infancy in Australia, the rollout of the network could open up some exciting possibilities for healthcare. Touted as ‘revolutionary’, the 5G network stands for the fifth generation of wireless mobile networks, and is designed to deliver higher data speeds and bandwidths more reliably than past networks, such as 3G and 4G.

Delivering ultrafast speeds is where 5G will shine – gigabit speeds are just the beginning. These speeds could power cutting-edge technologies or even allow surgeons to perform surgery remotely – the possibilities really are endless! Cisco predicts there will be
at least 20 to 30 billion IoT devices on networks over the next decade, while other estimates have suggested as many as 1 trillion – 5G technology could provide the speed and bandwidths needed to power patient IoT devices, digital imaging and EMR equipment.

It’s worth noting, however, that users are not likely to experience these kinds of speeds in the short term. In the meantime, healthcare providers looking to power bandwidth-intensive applications or devices should consider investing in dedicated fibre internet. With 90% of businesses across the country eligible for a $0 fibre upgrade* when they sign up to a 36-month nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet plan, it’s likely your healthcare business is eligible. Find out in a matter of minutes with our address checker.

Want to discover how 5G compares to the nbn™? Download our free ebook a here.

3 – Digital health

Perhaps not as exciting as the 5G network, but just as important in terms of improving healthcare outcomes in Australia, is digital health. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare defines digital health as “the umbrella term referring to a range of technologies that can be used to treat patients and collect and share a person’s health information” .

There are a host of compelling patient outcomes associated with digital health, including avoiding hospital admissions, fewer adverse drug events, reduced duplication of tests, better coordination of care for people with chronic and complex conditions, and better-informed treatment decisions.

While there has been some controversy around it, the federal government’s My Health Record – which migrates patient health records to the digital space – is a good example of digital health in Australia. However, digital health can also take other forms, such as sleep and fitness trackers, electronic prescribing, mobile applications, robotic nurse assistants and more. Despite

the many benefits, there are also a vast array of challenges Australian healthcare providers need to address in relation to digital health, such as privacy standards, security of information and patient consent. Healthcare providers seeking to digitise records or invest in some other form of digital health need to ensure their networks are secure. To learn more about network security, click here.

Connectivity that can power the future of healthcare

All of these innovations in healthcare are underpinned by connectivity. Without fast, reliable internet connections, everything from digital medical records to patient IoT devices would be unable to function.

Invest in the future of your healthcare business today with a connectivity solution tailored to your specific needs.

Whether it’s high-speed nbn™ or fibre internet, the expert, local team at Aussie Broadband can customise a plan to power your business into digital future. Click here for more information or get in touch with our team on 1300 161 625.