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Telehealth in Australia: an evolution in health care services

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To the Editor: Telehealth is the umbrella term for the electronic and telecommunication-based expansion of health care services, both clinical and non-clinical, which include telemedicine (telehealth clinical services) and electronic health record (EHR) systems. A re-evaluation of health care in Australia is needed, including characterisation of new systems of care focused on improving health outcomes using mobile device-based telehealth (mHealth). This will be accelerated through the right mixture of innovative telehealth technologies, evidence-based medicine and appropriate reimbursement policies based on health outcomes rather than usage volume.1

Mobile phones are the de facto method of communication for 75% of people globally, and the mHealth economy is growing at over $10 billion per annum.2 Consequently, telehealth and mHealth are rapidly changing — smartphones are becoming more powerful and secure, while wireless monitoring devices are becoming smaller, more intuitive and sophisticated.3 People use mobile phones for health-related activities such as scheduling health care appointments and online weight loss programs. Boarding pass barcodes on mobile phones are scanned for air travel, yet medical practices still…