At the Australian Centre for Health Innovation (CHI) in Melbourne a faithful replica of a hospital overlaid with a medical-grade IT testbed provides the ideal environment for healthcare solution providers to test and trial products that tackle the toughest health challenges.
Among an array of innovations CHI has helped vendors bring to market, Director of Technology, Frank Smolenaers, highlights the success of a project to design and test telehealth solutions to link regional GPs with metropolitan specialists.
“The government was bringing out a rebate for telehealth consultations linking regional GPs and their patients with metropolitan specialists.
“Together with an Australian telco, we modelled one room in our facility as the rural GP with the patient using a DSL link, and in the other room we used our AARNet link as the ‘corporate hospital’ link to a metropolitan specialist.”
With the two rooms separated acoustically, CHI conducted a number of telehealth consults using real GPs and specialists along with actors as patients.
“By observing and improving, we had a whole cycle of testing and development and we were able to help the company produce two levels of tele-health solutions; one for the GP practice and the other for the specialist. Our AARNet link made it all possible.”
For the last 10 years, CHI has been connected to Australia’s universities and hospitals via AARNet. In fact, it was the first health organisation to connect to the network as part of a test case to meet the needs of “dual citizens”: medical professionals who have hospital as well as academic positions.
Mr Smolenaers says CHI has used their AARNet connection “an inordinate amount of times” to test and trial new technologies.
CHI has also taken its demonstrations on the road; to conferences and hospitals around the country. Examples include demonstrations at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, as well as the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne; both also connected to AARNet.
“With the formidable AARNet connection we have, I knew there wouldn’t be an issue on our end as far as speed and throughput, and the whole experience would be optimised.”
AARNet connects numerous health research and education organisations around Australia, providing the ultra-high speed and reliable broadband connections that enable organisations to work together seamlessly to undertake essential health research and education across the nation’s vast distances.
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