Impact and Influence
Record of achievement
The COH stands at the forefront of research and service delivery using telehealth methods. Its overall goal is to develop and research new models of health care, with a view to obtaining quantitative evidence for their clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness. It combines service provision (operating one of the world’s largest paediatric telemedicine services), research and teaching. It maintains a large array of international, national and local collaborations.
Between 2008 and 2012, the COH has received more than $6m in research grant income through the State and Commonwealth Government, corporate and community sponsors. Since 2006, COH staff has collectively published five books, 15 book chapters, 14 conference abstracts and 116 journal papers in the peer-reviewed literature. To date, the COH has supported 10 PhD students, 6 of whom have completed.
Contribution to meetings
COH researchers are actively involved at national and international meetings, either by invitation or by acceptance of peer-reviewed abstracts. During the last five years the COH delivered 141 conference presentations, including 26 posters and 27 keynote addresses. In 2001, the COH held the inaugural International Successes and Failures in telehealth conference – a unique forum which explores both successful and failed efforts in telehealth. The SFT conference is the only academic telehealth conference in the southern hemisphere attracting delegates worldwide. The COH now supports the ATHS with the Global Telehealth which is held every alternate year to the SFT Conference.
Other research related achievements
Partnerships with government agencies, charitable organisations, industry and corporate sponsors in Australia have enabled the COH to develop and evaluate innovative telehealth services for the benefit of patients living in rural and remote areas of Australia. Collaborative organisations include Queensland Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, Xstrata, Rio Tinto, Telstra and Virgin Blue.
Advice to policy makers and clinicians
In conjunction with the Federal Government 2010 election commitment to fund videoconference consultations through the Medical Benefits Schedule, the COH secured a tender (through the Department of Health and Ageing) to generate a national report on telehealth implementations and associated technical requirements. This report will guide the strategic decisions related to this funding initiative. The COH provides a supportive and receptive environment for clinicians to share ideas regarding the potential use of telehealth as an alternative or complementary method of delivering health services. This approach enables researchers and clinicians to work together to trial, evaluate and integrate useful telehealth services into everyday practice.
Research success through the centre is reflected in the generation of new telemedicine projects and the transition of innovative projects from formal trial to mainstream practice. The COH approach is unique because it combines the elements of research, teaching and service delivery - with the aim of producing valuable evidence to support the development of new models of health service delivery.
The COH relationship with the Children’s Health Service has resulted in the operation of the largest paediatric orientated telemedicine service (telepaediatrics) in Australia – delivering more than 2500 specialist telehealth consultations every year for thousands of children and families throughout Queensland. Lessons learnt during the last decade are now being applied across the age spectrum to support our adult and aged care population.
In the area of Indigenous health, the COH has completed a trial of a mobile telemedicine screening service to support children at risk of hearing impairment caused by chronic ear disease. This study demonstrated that it is feasible to integrate a mobile telemedicine-enabled ear screening service with existing community-based services for Australian indigenous children. Since the screening service began, the results have been remarkable. The proportion of children (in the Cherbourg region) being screening at least once per year for ear disease, has increased from an average 45% (2007-2008) to over 82% during 2009/2010. This service now received recurrent funding from Queensland Health.