Plans to make pharmacies in rural and remote parts of Australia hubs for telehealth are being supported by Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
Speaking to Pharmacy eNews after the release of a Government discussion paper, which said pharmacies, could be used to link rural patients seeking video consultations with city-based specialists, Guild president Kos Sclavos said community pharmacy was well positioned to provide online conferencing facilities.
“It’s an indication of pharmacy’s accessibility and connectivity, that some patients may be able to go to a pharmacy and have a video consultation with a specialist.
“With e-health where it’s going, the pharmacy in rural and regional areas will be the right place to set up this type of facility.
“Pharmacists are accessible in rural areas; they are the anchor of the community in some of these locations and given pharmacy’s broadband connectivity and the high speeds that will be needed to video conferencing, pharmacies may well be suitable locations to have these consultations,” he said.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the $400 million program would improve rural access to specialists.
“Telehealth will make it easier for Australians to see and contact a doctor when they need one.
“It will better connect patients to the specialist services they require through the use of online videolink technology,” she said.
While the discussion paper recommended pharmacies and community centres be supported by nurses or indigenous health workers, it said GPs who wanted to take part in the program should be required to provide assurances that their computer and connection speed are capable of functioning without technical interference.