AMA says telecommunication haves and have nots is creating new divide with bush

Australian Medical Association

A new AMA position statement looks at the many reasons telecommunication infrastructure and platforms must be rolled out and secured across the country.

The AMA’s newly released position statement on ‘Better Digital Connectivity to Improve Health Care of Rural Australians‘ emphasises that technology telecommunication platforms must be able to accommodate developments in information and communications technologies, and provide digital connectivity through suitable combinations of fibre, mobile phone, wireless, and satellite technologies.  

The position statement also highlights the need for enhancing the resilience of telecommunications infrastructure to natural disasters throughout the country to provide sustainable health care services for all Australians. 

The federal government’s decision on 1 July to remove Medicare rebate for longer telephone consultation but keep patient rebates for video calls of the same duration (20–40 minutes) and longer has excluded rural patients to access Medicare rebate through video telehealth.  

Conducting video consultations is challenging with black spots and low internet speeds in rural setting.  

Government policies play a tremendous role in bringing internet access to remote regions and to ensure broadband services are reliable and affordable for all communities, business and services throughout the country. 

With more than 2.5 million Australians not using the internet due to access and affordability issues, digital exclusion has now become a greater driver of inequality than ever before in accessing healthcare services. 

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