The AMA welcomes today's commitment from Labor that, if elected, it would invest heavily in telemedicine to support and enhance health services as a part of a modern health system.
AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said the investment would assist doctors to better use communications technology to provide services to patients who would otherwise have limited or no access to these services.
Advertisement"This is a recognition of the need to embrace communications technology to modernise our health system," Dr Pesce said.
"It will allow doctors to overcome the tyranny of distance when providing care and advice for patients in rural and remote Australia. Some patients will no longer have to travel long hours and incur significant costs to access medical care.
"Ongoing support for telemedicine services, through Medicare patient rebates and support for IT infrastructure and training, will ensure that local doctors can obtain specialist input for the ongoing care and management of their patients.
"The capacity to download test results and high quality diagnostic images quickly will enhance the care that local doctors can provide via telemedicine networks, including the use of high quality video for doctor-patient consultations and videoconferencing.
"As the take-up and reach of telemedicine technology and services grow, so too must the investment to ensure that the telemedicine networks stay modern and new technologies are introduced as they become available.
"There would need to be close consultation with the AMA and the medical profession, especially rural doctors, to ensure that these initiatives provide the maximum benefit to patients and communities. The AMA would also like to see a corresponding commitment to attracting and retaining doctors in rural and remote communities to complement these important measures."
The AMA Position Statement on On-Line and Other Broadband Connected Medical Consultations recommends that telecommunications consultations should:
• only be used as an adjunct to normal medical practice, and incorporate the ultimate right of the doctor to determine whether or not he/she will provide any medical care to any patient on-line;
• only replace services where the quality and safety of patient care is not compromised, including where they provide access to medical care services in areas where such services are otherwise unavailable;
• not replace face-to-face consultations where the provision of quality care requires a face-to-face consultation; and
• incorporate the ultimate right of the doctor to determine whether consultation or provision of specific advice or care on-line is appropriate in any circumstance.