Telehealth: the rural connectivity divide


Telehealth services have been on the rise for several years now. Since March 2020 telehealth services have skyrocketed and new temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) and provide protection for patients and health care providers. Ten million telehealth services have been delivered to more than 3.2 million Australians in need of health care in regional, rural and remote Australia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare data has shown.

Telehealth can assist healthcare systems, organisations, and providers expand access to and improve the quality of rural healthcare. Using telehealth in rural areas to deliver and assist with the delivery of healthcare services can reduce or minimise challenges and burdens patients encounter. It can also improve monitoring, timeliness, and communications within the healthcare system.

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) deliver health services and transmit information over both long and short distances. It is about transmitting voice, data, images and information rather than moving care recipients, health professionals or educators. It encompasses diagnosis, treatment, preventive (educational) and curative aspects of healthcare services and typically involves care recipient(s), care providers or educators in the provision of these services directed to the care recipient.

Video conferencing is the preferred approach for substituting a face-to-face consultation and is one of the main ways of improving access to healthcare services for patients who live in regional, rural and remote areas.

“While telehealth has been an important lifeline for people in rural, regional and remote Australia during the pandemic, connectivity remains a big issue in rural Australia, and we need to be improving internet infrastructure in the bush otherwise telehealth is difficult or impossible for patients and health practitioners to use,” said National Rural Health Alliance CEO Dr Gabrielle O’Kane.

Although internet infrastructure is available to almost all Australians, more than 2.5 million remain offline. The take up of the NBN continues to close the gap in access for rural Australia, however, there are substantial differences in digital inclusion between Australians living in rural and urban areas.

Telehealth is only as good as the bandwidth it occupies

COVID has created an unprecedented demand for connectivity. As we settle into the ‘new normal’, the need for innovative connectivity solutions is now more critical than ever.

The Cellferno is a revolutionary product, brand new to the Australian market, developed using innovative mobile technology which delivers high-speed data for basic internet access to mission-critical applications. Connectivity is the new currency in light of the global pandemic, with connectivity solutions like Cellferno critical for consumers and businesses in order to digitally navigate COVID-19 restrictions.

Cellferno can provide users with super-fast internet speeds and connectivity, with the single box design containing multiple antennas and a built-in modem to capture the best possible signal outdoors. With a single ethernet cable powering the Cellferno device, it can be connected directly to a computer, network switch or a WIFI access point to provide high-speed internet to devices within range.

Cellferno’s focus is on speed, it can act as a primary internet for areas with poor internet, cellular or NBN service with speeds up to 600Mbps. The coverage area is up to 350m of 2.4GHz or up to 250m of 5GHz Wi-Fi coverage, making the Cellferno perfect for many farming, rural and domestic properties.

“The need for better connectivity has never before been so critical, with more people staying at home, organisations setting up pop-up work zones, businesses using online tools or platforms, and the necessity of web-based learning. Cellferno is an extension to Powertec’s current mobile broadband product offering, providing an additional high-speed connectivity solution to our product portfolio.” — Powertec General Manager Samantha Clifton.

In this current climate of wireless dependency due to the COVID-19 crisis, Cellferno delivers the ultimate high-speed internet connectivity solution, especially where cable-based internet is not available. The Cellferno has allowed Powertec to provide fast reliable internet connectivity to clients in a previously fragmented area. The fixed wireless solution is taking on the NBN, or inadequate broadband connections, across many rural areas across Australia. In this current climate of wireless dependency due to the COVID-19 crisis, Cellferno delivers the ultimate high-speed internet connectivity solution, especially where cable-based internet is not available.

Contact our team of experts today about our innovative connectivity solutions on 1300 769 378, email sales@powertec.com.au or visit www.powertec.com.au to view the full range of products.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/fizkes

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