More than 300 general practices, allied health practices and residential aged care facilities across the Hunter, New England and Central Coast regions will benefit from $1.6 million in digital health grants.
Delivered by the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN), the funding will provide administrative efficiencies for staff and improve patient-centred care.
The Health-e Together grants, offered in $5,000 bundles, will provide funding to improve digital health capabilities and enablers such as telehealth systems, upgrades of website, online booking systems, e-referrals and cyber security training.
Residential aged care facilities (RACFs) were also offered a telehealth-specific grant featuring a $5,000 telehealth bundle, which included a specially developed telehealth trolley.
The telehealth trolley can be wheeled into a patient’s room where they virtually consult with their GP or specialist.
The nurse can use the detachable camera to provide a close-up for wound reviews, with the cart allowing real-time documentation, access to referrals and e-prescribing where necessary.
The PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis, said the recipients were already reaping the rewards.
“Some general practices have used the funding to implement online booking systems, assisting in lowering the burden on already stretched administration staff,” Nankervis said.
“Others are undergoing education so that they can more capably use digital tools such as My Health Record and SeNT referrals, streamlining consultations and providing primary care efficiencies.
“In a time when our GP practices are feeling the burden of staff shortages and workforce fatigue, these efficiencies go a long way to alleviate stress in the provision of primary care.”
Meanwhile, the HNECC PHN has also commissioned two new mental health services intending to increase access for vulnerable people.
The first is a telehealth psychiatry service targeted at priority population groups, including women with perinatal depression, First Nations people, people living in rural and remote areas, people on a low income, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and people with a recent suicide attempt or suicidal behaviour.
PHN has commissioned Call to Mind to provide the telehealth psychiatry service across the HNECC region.
The telehealth service is available to people who reside or work within the HNECC PHN catchment and are aged 16 years and over.
The second new service is for children up to 12, targeted at priority population groups who have difficulty accessing mental health treatment in the primary care sector.
The priority population groups are people who are under financial hardship, children who have parents with severe mental illness, aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people of Cultural and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds, individuals who have self-harmed, attempted suicide or have suicidal ideation and children living in rural and remote areas.
The new services will be available from July 2022 until June 30, 2023, with no out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.
Primary Health Network