Telehealth refers to health care delivery, or related processes (such as education), when some of the participants are separated by distance and information and communications technologies are used to overcome that distance.
Telehealth can be a cost effective, real-time and convenient alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing healthcare, professional advice and education. It can help to remove many of the barriers currently experienced by health consumers and professionals, such as distance, time and cost, which can prevent or delay the delivery of timely and appropriate healthcare services and educational support.
The objectives of using telehealth are to:
- improve patient outcomes
- drive greater efficiency in the way health care is delivered
- support the delivery of the quality health care across the state and
- make telehealth a viable alternate to the way some health care is traditionally delivered.
In 2013 the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) established a new Telehealth Unit (THU) to drive the uptake of telehealth in Victorian public health services. The unit works across the Department and with health services to disseminate information and provide support on telehealth models of care. It also aims to identify and address key barriers to the uptake of telehealth.