Digital health technologies (including Telehealth) for rural children in Australia

Summary

Improving access to care for children living in rural Australia

Purpose:
To increase access to early assessment, intervention and sustainable paediatric and allied health services in rural Australia by increasing community-level partnerships, integration of existing health services and digital health technologies like Telehealth/Telecare.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Alexandra Martiniuk

Research Location

City - The George Institute for Global Health

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Objectives

  1. To facilitate integration and partnerships at the community level to create a shared funding platform for telecare
  2. Determine the incidence, root-causes, outcomes and potential prevention strategies for adverse events during the use of telecare and to strengthen the use of routine data collection to continuously learn from any such incidents
  3. To better understand the needs of young people and their parents, with respect to telecare, in order to improve the design and delivery of services to best meet their needs
  4. To understand the costs, and cost savings and to who, of providing services via telecare in rural NSW
  5. To better understand how digital health technologies (mobile apps, video Telehealth etc) can support multi-disciplinary pediatric teams to provide care for rural children
  6. To better understand the role of the coordinating staff team for Telehealth effectiveness and efficiency
  7. To create and evaluate digital health tools (online modules, gamification etc) to support mental health early intervention, assessment and treatment for children
  8. The role of the NDIS and digital health technologies for children with disability (functional needs) in rural Australia
  9. To better understand the role, education and supports required for telehealth staff and clinicians for rural pediatric health services

Methods:
Methods being used in this program of research include: epidemiology (quantitative research including cluster randomised trials, case control studies, cohort studies and thus analytic techniques such as mixed effects modelling, multivariate models), qualitative methods (including realist methods, observation, focus groups and interviews), policy, cost and economic analyses, and knowledge translation. There may be the opportunity to learn about intellectual property protection (patenting, trade marks) and spin-out companies.

Implementation partner:  Royal Far West (RFW) Children's Health Service.
In 2013 RFW received the Premier's Award for Excellence in Public Service Delivery. Working with RFW enables continuous engagement with delivery arms of the health system increasing the relevance of the questions asked but also increasing opportunities for knowledge translation.

RFW connects care across service sectors and over time, as well as directly providing paediatric and allied health care, in person and via telecare, to rural children in Australia. One quarter of these children are Aboriginal. RFW works with Medicare locals, NSW Health, NSW Kids and Families, the Dept of Education, communities, and non-government groups to identify children who need extra support, to intervene early to prevent poor health. RFW supports children with fetal alcohol syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit, and mental health conditions amongst others.

Partners involved: CSIRO and others

Significance
The questions that policy makers tend to ask include: what should be done in practice; how will it work; what will the effects be; how much will it cost; will there be adverse consequences?; and on whom will they fall? Very little evidence provides answers to such questions (Tilley and Laycock 2000) - this is true in the digital health space for rural children.

This body of work is aligned with the NSW Kids and Families Strategic Plan to 2024, including targeting children at risk, strengthening early intervention services, improving developmental outcomes, delivering best-practice care close to home, integrating care and doing so using evidence, eHealth and partnerships.

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Keywords

indigenous, rural, pediatric, children, telehealth, telemedicine, health systems and services research, digital health, innovation, knowledge translation, implementation science, mixed methods, epidemiology, Qualitative research, policy and economic analysis, quality improvement, patient-centered care, health care integration

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 541

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