GP clinics to get free nbn boost for telehealth
NBN Co is to support Australia’s expansion of telehealth services by offering free broadband connection upgrades to GP clinics, during COVID-19.
Under the move, clinics that have purchased a residential 12/1 Mbps or 25/5 Mbps service with NBN Co can upgrade via their retail service provider to access extra bandwidth.
The clinics will be provided 50 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload connections at no extra cost, for a period of six months.
This additional bandwidth will comfortably support the upload and download requirements of multiple videoconferencing streams. In turn, it will ensure GPs can provide high-quality consultations without any outages or delays.
The NBN Co initiative complements the efforts of the federal government, which this week announced that telehealth services would be made available to all Australians under bulk-billing. The expansion of telehealth is part of the government’s bid to enforce social distancing practices and flatten the COVID-19 curve.
The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, welcomed NBN Co’s decision and said, “The near ubiquitous availability of high-speed broadband via the nbn means Australia is very well placed to deliver telehealth services: if both patients and GPs have the connection they need for high-speed broadband, then a two-way video consultation becomes a practical option for many.
“As Minister Hunt has said, whole-of-population telehealth will allow people to access essential health services in their home and will support self-isolation and quarantine policies, while helping doctors to continue to deliver services to their patients.
Also supporting a mass shift to telehealth, Sydney-based medical software provider MedicalDirector recently announced that its fully integrated telehealth solution will be made available for free to its customers, for at least the next three months.
MedicalDirector CEO Matthew Bardsley said: “Without the support and collaboration of the nbn, our ability to respond to the needs of General Practices during this time would have been challenged.
“With this announcement today we look forward to enabling ideal General Practice services in Australia under the new social distancing requirements. Keeping patients healthy and our customers, the doctors, the nurses and staff as safe as possible."
In addition to GP support, NBN Co has released a discussion paper proposing further relief measures to help Australians during the crisis. Further interventions may be put in place to support SMEs, and families with school-aged children that currently do not have home broadband.
NBN Co will consult with retail service providers in the coming days before finalising these new measures.
Minister Fletcher said, “I strongly encourage retailers to review the proposals NBN Co is putting forward so we can quickly adopt new ways of assisting and supporting Australian families and businesses during this challenging time.”
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